LIMA — Six minutes into Friday night’s Division VI Region 23 playoff game at Spartan Stadium, Lima Central Catholic jumped out to a 14-0 lead and had the ball looking for more.
However, an interception by Fairview’s Noah Hagerman gave the Apaches a spark and the Black and Gold rallied from there to post a 29-27 win over the top seed Thunderbirds to move on to the regional semifinals.
Early on, it was all Thunderbirds.
Lima Central Catholic took the game’s opening possession and marched 53-yards in seven plays, capped off on a six-yard scamper by Rossi Moore to give the Thunderbirds a 7-0 lead with 9:36 left in the quarter.
The host Thunderbirds added to the margin at the 6:02 mark when Shaun Thomas scored on a 14-yard run to expand the LCC lead to 14-0.
However, Fairview would get a spark on Lima Central Catholic’s next possession.
Hagerman’s interception of a Nevan Stolly pass gave the Apaches life and the black and gold took over at the LCC 32-yard line following the turnover.
The Apaches needed only three plays to get on the scoreboard as quarterback Cade Polter hooked up with Riley Lucas on a 35-yard touchdown toss to pull Fairview within 14-6 at the 11:05 mark of the second quarter.
After allowing 110 rushing yards to LCC in the first quarter, it was the Fairview defense that again come up with the big play.
With the Thunderbirds facing a fourth and one at the Fairview 16, it was Lucas that stopped Thomas for a loss of two to turn the ball over to the Apaches at their own 18-yard line.
“I am just so proud of these kids,” commented Fairview head coach Doug Rakes. “They are so coachable and they just go out and do what we ask them to do. We tweaked some things there in the first quarter and I thought our defense really did a nice job from that point on. Lima Central Catholic has a lot of speed, and speed we can’t emulate in practice, but our kids did a good job of making plays.”
After the big defensive stop, Fairview drove 82-yards in ten plays to cut further into the deficit.
Polter connected with Luke Timbrook on a 20-yard scoring strike that got the black and gold within 14-12 at the midway point of the contest.
“We feel like we have some pretty good athletes too,” Rakes continued. “I thought our offense put together some good drives and the kids executed what we wanted to do.”
The Apaches then took their first lead four plays into the second half when Timbrook rumbled 43-yards for a score. Polter found Timbrook for the two point conversion pass as well to give Fairview a 20-14 lead with 10:24 left in the third quarter.
Lima Central Catholic, though, would answer with a methodical drive that covered 14 plays and 68 yards. The drive finished on a five-yard scoot by Moore to give the Thunderbirds a 21-20 lead with 5:08 remaining in the period.
It was then Lucas who made yet another big play for the black and gold.
The senior standout fielded the ensuing kickoff at the 14-yard line and proceeded to run it back all 86 yards for a Fairview touchdown, giving the Apaches the lead for good.
“We had a lot of kids step up and make big plays tonight,” Rakes continued. “I am just proud of the whole team. It is a great bunch of guys and they are so much fun to coach.”
Caleb Frank added a 21-yard field goal on Fairview’s next possession, extending the margin to 29-21 with 7:09 left in the contest and that would be critical.
That is because the Thunderbirds drew within 29-27 with 3:25 remaining on a five-yard Thomas run that finished up a nine-play, 70-yard drive.
However, a trick-play halfback-pass on the two-point conversion attempt was incomplete to keep Fairview in front 29-27.
The Black and Gold then ran out the clock, thanks in part to a huge 30-yard pass from Polter to Doug Rakes as the Apaches faced a third-and-18 at their own 17-yard line. The first down helped to seal a second straight regional semifinal berth for the Apaches.
“These guys just believe in each other and they go out and make plays for each other,” concluded Rakes. “It is a tremendous group and I just am so proud of this entire team.”
Fairview advances to play Anna in the regional semifinals at a site to be determined by the Ohio High School Athletic Association on Sunday.
First Downs 18 21
Rushing Yards 21-88 57-288
Passing Yards 278 73
Total Yards 366 361
Passing 17-25-0 5-6-1
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 0-0
Penalties 4-25 5-44
Fairview 0 12 14 3 — 29
Lima CC 14 0 7 6 — 27
LCC — Moore 7-run (Davisson kick).
LCC — Thomas 13-run (Davisson kick).
F — Lucas 35-pass from Polter (kick failed).
F — Timbrook 20-pass from Polter (run failed).
F — Timbrook 43-run (Timbrook pass from Polter).
LCC — Moore 5-run (Davisson kick).
F — Lucas 87-kickoff return (pass failed).
F — Frank 21-field goal.
LCC — Moore 5-run (pass failed).
RUSHING: Fairview — Timbrook 8-67; Lucas 3-16; Polter 9-3; Singer 1-2. Lima Central Catholic — Thomas 29-153; Moore 18-100; Wilson 9-27; Stolly 1-8. PASSING: Fairview — Polter 17-25-0-278. Lima Central Catholic — Stolly 6-7-1-73. RECEIVING: Fairview — Lucas 3-107; Rakes 7-88; Timbrook 4-56; Frank 3-27. Lima Central Catholic — Thomas 3-51; Moore 2-11; Riepenhoff 1-11.