WAPAKONETA — Fairview got exactly what it wanted to start Friday night’s Division VI regional semifinal playoff football game at Harmon Field in Wapakoneta.
The Apaches needed less than a minute to provide the game’s first score and the Fairview defense came up with a turnover on Anna’s first possession. The Black and Gold then followed that up with another quick score to take an early 14-0 lead on the Rockets.
However, it was all Anna from that point forward.
The No. 1 Rockets scored 54 of the next 60 points in the contest, including the final 34 in a row, to pull away for a 54-20 win to advance to the Region 23 championship game next Friday.
Anna did so behind a stellar performance from its all-senior offensive line and on the legs of senior running back Riley Huelskamp and senior quarterback Bart Bixler.
Huelskamp ran for 317 yards on 31 carries and Bixler added 131 yards on 13 tries as Anna finished the contest with 484 rushing yards overall.
“They have a couple of studs over there in the running back and quarterback,” commented Fairview head coach Doug Rakes. “I was worried all week about how we were going to stop them, or at least contain them, and we just weren’t able to do that. But, their offensive line is tremendous too and opens up holes for them. They are a very good football team.”
Trailing 27-20 at halftime, the Apaches surprised Anna with an onside kick that was covered by the Apaches at the Rocket 41-yard line to open the second half.
However, an incomplete pass, a sack of Fairview quarterback Caden Polter and an interception by Huelskamp of a Polter pass stopped any momentum for the Apaches.
Anna responded with a seven-play, 65-yard drive that was capped off on a one-yard Huelskamp plunge to put the Rockets on top 33-20.
Fairview never recovered.
“We came out there and we had seen it on film so we thought we would be able to execute it,” Rakes said of the onside kick. “It gave us a little bit of momentum but it was short-lived. They responded by going down and scoring and it kind of took the life out of us a little bit.”
The Rocket defense then took over in the second half.
Fairview was held to negative 17 yards of offense in the final two quarters over 19 plays.
Meanwhile, Anna generated 260 yards of total offense in the third and fourth quarters, scoring 27 points in that span.
Huelskamp had touchdown runs of one, three, 34 and 27 yards in the second half as the Rockets put the game away.
Fairview opened the game with a five-play, 80-yard scoring drive that culminated on a 27-yard scoring strike from Polter to Doug Rakes that gave the Apaches a 7-0 advantage 51 seconds into the game.
The Apache defense then forced a Bixler fumble three plays into the Anna possession, giving the black and gold the ball at the Anna 32.
Six plays later, Caleb Frank hauled in a Polter pass that was tipped in the endzone for a 28-yard touchdown that put Fairview on top 14-0.
Anna, though, answered quickly on the ensuing possession.
The Rockets needed only three plays as Bixler tossed a screen pass to Huelskamp who turned it into a 67-yard touchdown pass that got Anna within 14-6.
After forcing a Fairview punt on the Apaches’ next possession, it was Huelskamp that again found the endzone on a 14-yard scamper to slice the Rocket deficit to 14-13 after one quarter.
Anna took the lead on its next possession.
The Green and White put together a seven-play, 80-yard drive, culminated by a 43-yard sprint by Bixler that put the Rockets on top 20-14.
However, Fairview found a rally.
Starting at the Apache 27, Polter connected with Luke Timbrook for four yards before the signal caller found Frank for a 53-yard pass to the Anna 16. Polter and Frank then hooked up again for a 15-yard gain down to the Rocket one where Polter plunged in to tie the game at 20-20.
A 25-yard touchdown run by Bixler on the Rockets’ next possession put Anna back on top 27-20 with 4:31 left in the first half and proved to be the winning score.
Polter finished the contest 16 of 34 through the air for the Apaches for 228 yards. Frank led the way with eight receptions for 171 yards while Rakes added four catches for 33 yards.
Although the season ended for the Black and Gold Friday night, head coach Doug Rakes couldn’t be prouder of his senior class.
“They are a tremendous group of guys,” commented the Apache mentor. “We were looking back through the history of the program and they have had more wins in the playoffs than any group in school history. I am just proud of all of them.”
The Apaches close the season with a record of 10-2 overall while claiming a Green Meadows Conference championship.
First Downs 27 10
Rushing Yards 55-464 12-(-26)
Passing Yards 90 228
Total Yards 554 202
Passing 4-5-0 16-34-1
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 1-0
Penalties 8-66 5-46
Anna 13 14 20 7 — 54
Fairview 14 6 0 0 — 20
F — Rakes 22-pass from Polter (Frank kick).
F — Frank 28-pass from Polter (Frank kick).
A — Huelskamp 67-pass from Bizler (kick failed).
A — Huelskamp 14-run (Ambos kick).
A — Bixler 43-run (Ambos kick).
F — Polter 1-run (kick failed).
A — Bixler 25-run (Ambos kick).
A — Huelskamp 1-run (kick failed).
A — Huelskamp 3-run (Ambos kick).
A — Huelskamp 34-run (Ambos kick).
A — Huelskamp 27-run (Ambos kick).
RUSHING: Anna — Huelskamp 31-317; Bixler 13-131. PASSING: Anna — Bixler 4-5-0-90. Polter 16-34-1-228. RECEIVING: Anna — Lininger 2-12; Huelskamp 1-67. Fairview — Frank 8-171; Rakes 4-33.