Black River's Riley Bartolic (7) throws for a completion at Fairview. RUSS GIFFORD / GAZETTE
Russell A. Gifford Enlarge
FAIRVIEW PARK — Sometimes funny things happen when football teams with a tradition and a winning culture meet teams that haven’t won much. Sometimes that second kind of team is hungry and it shows.
The Fairview Warriors, a winless team this year that went 3-7 a year ago, were ready when the Black River game started. The Pirates were not, but they rallied to win 28-20 in non-league action.
So disjointed were the visitors that Fairview hung a 20-6 halftime score on Al Young’s squad, a team that is a frequent visitor to the playoffs and controls many a game with a powerful running attack and defense.
So what happened? How did the Pirates (2-2) turn things around and keep the Warriors winless?
“Maybe,” surmised running back/cornerback Caleb Simonson, there was “a little butt-kicking talk at halftime” that fired up Black River. “And maybe we got more aggressive.”
It didn’t hurt any that two-way lineman Mitchell Young returned after sitting out last week with an injury.
“It was really good getting Mitchel back out there,” Simonson said. “He’s a tank.”
Mitchell Young said he was ready to go from the first whistle and played both ways.
“I hated having to watch (a 14-6 loss to Ontario) last week,” he said. “We don’t lose back-to-back at Black River.”
After Fairview took the second half kickoff and went three-and-out, Simonson electrified the crowd with a 58-yard run and the Pirates asserted themselves and stuffed the ball into the end zone on a plunge by Spencer Constable. A two-point conversion try failed, leaving the score at 20-12.
On Fairview’s ensuing possession, a third-and-13 pass in the flat was picked off by Simonson, who had an easy path into the end zone. Simonson (143 yards rushing) added a two-point conversion run to tie the game.
Black River started the fourth quarter with the ball and finished a 12-play, 60-yard drive on a 14-yard run by Simonson and conversion run by Constable.
Fairview had two more shots, but a gadget play that looked like a 70-yard touchdown pass from running back Connor Lally to wide receiver Turner Hahn was disallowed, the ruling being that Lally received a forward pass instead of a lateral.
A final fourth-down pass near midfield was batted away by Mark Mason with 3:33 on the clock and the Pirates drove nearly to the goal line before twice taking a knee.
“It was two totally different games,” Al Young said. “We just came out lethargic. It took us some time to get our timing down, but it felt good. I’m happy for the kids. We were vastly improved. It’s a major step forward.”
The first half started poorly for the Pirates, whose punt after just three plays was blocked by Ian McClintock. The Warriors scored shortly thereafter and Adam Nemeth kicked the first of two conversions.
Black River countered with a 5-yard run by Constable (14 carries, 73 yards).
Fairview’s Marty Rehor returned a punt 45 yards to the end zone and Nemeth added field goals of 22 and 40 yards, the second kick as the first-half clock expired.
Contact Harry H. Peck
Black River 28, Fairview 20
BLACK RIVER 6 0 14 8 — 28
FAIRVIEW 7 13 0 0 — 20
F — Declan Jewitt 1 yard run (Adam Nemeth kick), 10:26.
B — Spencer Constable 5 yard run (run failed), 1:05.
F — Nemeth 22 field goal, 7:49.
F — Marty Rehor 45 punt return (Nemeth kick), 6:00.
F — Nemeth 40 field goal :00
B — Constable 1 yard run (run failed), 7:25.
B — Caleb Simonson 10 interception return (Simonson run), 5:44.
B — Simonson 14 run (Constable run), 6:47.