WEST COLUMBIA — The Fairfield Central Griffins (0-1) came up one point shy in their season opener against the Brookland-Cayce Bearcats (1-0) Friday night. After two overtime periods, the Griffins fell 29-28.
The game was forced into extra time after Fairfield’s kicker, Isias Leon, missed a 27-yard field goal wide left as time expired.
Facing a second down and nine at the 17-yard line with under 20 seconds remaining in regulation and no timeouts, the Griffins squeezed in one more play before attempting a field goal. Joseph Young took the hand off down to the Brookland-Cayce 10-yard line, but with limited time remaining the Griffins’ field goal unit hurried onto the field.
“We wanted to get in the middle so we ran the run play to get him in the middle of the field, but the run play ended up bouncing out the backside,” Fairfield Central head coach Demetrius Davis said after the game. “We really didn’t want to put our kicker on the hash in that situation. It was one of those things where it didn’t quite work out the way we planned it.”
Leon was perfect before that crucial miss. He hit both his point after attempts including an 18-yard and 29-yard field goal. Leon, a soccer player, was just called up to the football squad last week.
In the first overtime, Leon was unable to connect on 20-yard field goal from the right hash. However with the game on the line, the Griffins’ field goal block unit was able to block Brookland-Cayce kicker David Koprowski’s attempt to force a second overtime.
After being given favorable field position from a Fairfield penalty, the Bearcats scored off a one-yard plunge from Tay Pringle.
Trailing 29-22, Fairfield answered the call with a three-yard quarterback keeper up the middle by Stanley McManus.
With the score 29-28 and the game on the line, Fairfield Central head coach Demetrius Davis decided to forgo the extra point and shoot for the two-point conversion and the win.
“Well we had missed two kicks in a row and my guy hasn’t been kicking but a week and I didn’t want to put him in that situation,” Davis noted. “I thought we had a good play call and I actually said before we scored that we would go for two. It was a call I made and it didn’t work. I told the kids it was my fault and I’ll take the blame for that.”
McManus was unable to connect with his wide receiver after what appeared to be defensive holding in the endzone and the Griffins were turned away by the Bearcats defense.
“It’s not holding if they don’t call it,” Davis said after the game. “I thought the guy grabbed him but they didn’t call it.”
In regulation, the Griffin offense marched up and down the field racking up 417 yards and 22 first downs. Despite those gaudy numbers, Fairfield committed three turnovers.
“If we don’t turn the ball over, this game probably wouldn’t of even been close,” Davis stated. “But it’s part of it and we’ll have to grow from this and learn from this.”
Fairfield’s defense held the Bearcats to zero first downs and just 25 yards passing in the first half. Despite limited success in the first half throwing the football, Brookland-Cayce quarterback Kozie Brown was able to produce a game tying drive at the end of regulation to force the overtime. With just under five minutes remaining and trailing 22-14, Brown engineered a 14-play drive to tie the game. On that final drive he threw for 75 yards including a 31-yard touchdown to cap off the drive with 1:12 remaining. Thomas Scott added the two-point conversion after scrambling out of the pocket and into the endzone.
“He (Brown) wasn’t doing anything different (in the second half), they just started calling some plays that we were vulnerable to,” Davis said. “They were able to hit us on a couple of comebacks and that guy has a pretty good arm. They’re a good football team and have some good looking kids. At the end of the day we’re just going to have to go back and look at this film and see what we could’ve done differently.”
Although the Griffins are incorporating youth onto the squad, Davis believes it is just a matter of time before it all comes together.
“This football team is a team that will have to get better each week,” he said after the game. “None of our goals are shattered. We never had a goal of going undefeated. If we can get a little better each week and we’ll be fine.”
Fairfield’s squad is made up of many players who just aren’t used to losing. Davis noted that the last three JV teams at Fairfield Central has only lost four times in three years.
“These kids haven’t lost a whole lot of football games since their ninth grade year,” he said. “We felt like we could come in here and steal one, even if it was by just one point. I think we’ll be better next week.”
Fairfield Central will be on the road again Friday night, when they travel to play the Chester Cyclones. Fairfield leads the all-time series 18-5 and have won the last five contests in a row. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.