By MC WEEKLY SPORTS STAFF
---- — Maconaquah’s football team fell short in its comeback against Fairfield in an opening-round game in Class 3A Sectional 26 play Friday night at Bunker Hill.
The Braves trailed 20-0 with six seconds left in the third quarter before going on a 28-8 run to tie it at 28-28 with 3:12 left in the game. But the visiting Falcons regained the lead and went on for a 42-28 win.
“I couldn’t be more prouder of these guys right now,” Maconaquah coach Mark Hartman said after the game. “There was a couple of times in this game where they could have folded the tent and they didn’t. They hung in there, and they made plays. We played aggressive defense and we did what we needed to do offensively to keep ourselves in the ball game, and we knew that was something that we were going to have to do. We wanted to make sure at the end of the ball game we gave ourselves a chance to win it, and unfortunately, we came up short.”
Maconaquah was held scoreless for the first 35:54 before K.J. Walton scored on a 98-yard punt return. The Braves then scored three more times. Cody Hicks scored two touchdowns, on runs of four yards and 23 yards, to cut Fairfield’s lead to 28-21. Maconaquah tied it at 28-28 with 3:12 left as quarterback Kyle Dinn threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Jesse Scott.
“We were looking for a spark and that was the spark we needed,” Hartman said of Walton’s 98-yard punt return for a TD. “All of a sudden, we were jump started and we started playing a whole lot better football, but fell a little bit short.”
Fairfield re-gained the lead as quarterback Kyle Mast found running back Cameron Kitson for a 50-yard touchdown pass to give the Falcons a 35-28 lead with 1:55 left. Maconaquah tried to tie it again on its next drive, but it ended as Fairfield’s Lucas Miller intercepted a pass from Dinn and returned it 47 yards for a touchdown for the final 42-28.
The beginning of the game was quite different as it was a defensive struggle. Maconaquah forced Fairfield to punt on its first three possessions. Maconaquah’s offense was also off to a rough start with punts on its first two possessions and a fumble on its third possession. Fairfield recovered at Maconaquah’s 22. The Braves forced the Falcons into a corner with a fourth-and-18 from Maconaquah’s 30 yard only to see Mast hook up with Forrest Giogouski for a 30-yard TD pass for a 7-0 Falcon lead.
Fairfield’s defense set up the Falcons’ second TD. Maconaquah’s Dinn threw his first interception of the night, giving Fairfield a first-and-10 on Maconaquah’s 13. Kitson ran 10 yards for a TD for a 14-0 lead with 4:27 left in the first half.
Hicks led Maconaquah with 221 yards and two touchdowns on 32 carries. It was the junior’s fourth 200-yard game of the season. He closed the season with 1,678 yards and 21 touchdowns on 210 carries.
Dinn completed 10 of 26 pass attempts for 122 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. Trevor Hagan was the top receiver with four receptions for 54 yards.
Kitson led Fairfield with 14 carries for 156 yards and two touchdowns. He also had 4 receptions for 85 yards and one touchdown.
Fairfield improved to 9-1. Maconaquah closed the season at 6-4.
— Kenny Hetzler
AROUND MIAMI COUNTY
Also in Class 3A Sectional 26, Rochester beat Peru 52-21 at Peru. The Bengal Tigers jumped to a 13-7 lead, but the Zebras quickly grabbed control and went into halftime with a 33-13 advantage.
Peru closed the season with a 4-6 record, losing its final six games.
In Class A Sectional 43, North Miami fell 34-7 to Adams Central. The young Warriors closed with a 1-9 record, ending a string of six straight seasons with winning records.