A huge county win is a great remedy for injuries and bad luck haunting a team. The Fayette County Tigers made themselves a night where everything went right, exploding at the start of the second half to beat Whitewater 35-0. The victory puts them into the driver’s seat for a playoff spot, controlling their own destiny.
“I told the team a long time ago, it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. These games are so important this time of year, we just wanted to hold it together,” said Fayette coach Mike Davis. “We’ve had so many injuries, so many things happening, guys playing different positions, and we’re still really young. We were truly blessed tonight. I’m just thankful.”
On a night where the Tigers were simply dominant on defense, Kevin Zachary was at the tip of the spear, notching an unbelievable performance of seven tackles, four for a loss, two sacks, three forced fumbles, two interceptions, and one touchdown.
“He did a great job. He’s a good athlete,” praised Davis. “He’s just a junior too, so we’ll be happy to have him back.”
Tay Cody led the team in tackles with nine, with a sack, a fumble recovery, and a touchdown. Sean Harper added eight tackles, two for a loss.
Fayette’s running game was solid, piling up 171 yards at 4.6 per attempt. Quarterback Anthonie Powell led the way with 70 yards and two touchdowns on 15 attempts. Malek Bowe added 56 yards on 10 carries.
“Coach (Andy) Smith has been doing a great job with the offense,” said Davis. “We put in a whole new system this year, and they’re starting to gel. They played with some confidence. The backs ran hard and Powell did a good job managing the game.”
Everything that could go right coming out of halftime, did go right for the Tigers. It was not a matter of fortune smiling on them. They made their own luck.
“We came in saying we wanted to play fast, we wanted to play physical, we wanted to play smart,” said Davis. “The defense got after it and made some plays. I’m proud of the way they played with a lot of energy. That was the difference in the second half.”
Kicking off from the Whitewater 45 yardline because of a Wildcat unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and ejection on the first half’s final play, the Tigers pinned them back deep. Kevin Zachary made them pay, rushing off the edge and blowing up the quarterback with a vicious blindside hit to dislodge the ball. Tay Cody pounced on it in the end zone for a touchdown and a 22-0 lead just 15 seconds into the half.
Whitewater was forced into a three-and-out on the ensuing possession, but tried to catch the Tigers napping. The Cats went for a fake punt on fourth and five at their own 22, but Fayette was ready, stopping it short.
Starting on Whitewater’s 24, quarterback Anthonie Powell wasted zero time, juking two defenders en route to a 24-yard touchdown run.
Zachary struck again on the next series, intercepting a pass past midfield and taking it back to the house to make it 35-0, Fayette scoring 20 points in just over five minutes at the start of the second half.
“It felt awesome. We couldn’t have done this without God,” Zachary said of keying his team to victory. “We’ve got a shot at the playoffs. We feel inspired. We need to go back to practice Monday with that mindset, and we’ll be ready.”
As well as the Tigers played the second half, the first half was an even battle, as the defenses ruled the start of the game. Daiquan Williamson killed Fayette’s first drive with a tackle in the backfield for a four-yard loss. Sean Harper showed why he is one of the county’s finest defensive talents, returning the favor with a two-yard tackle for a loss to force a three-and-out. The Tigers went for it on fourth and short on their next turn, but Hunter Griffin burst through the line to stop it. Jaylon Rhodes made the next play for Fayette, forcing a fumble that would cost the Wildcats 10 yards.
Starting at midfield, the Tigers made their next possession count, taking advantage of the multi-talented Daveion Nash. Nash, the former quarterback, took a handoff around the left end but pulled up to throw to Wade Barlow streaking down the sideline. They connected for a 48-yard bomb to just short of the end zone. Powell finished it off with a one-yard run, James Hawkins adding the extra point for a 7-0 lead.
Already pinning the Cats back to a 3rd and 25, Noah Alford and Rhodes teamed up to sack the quarterback inside his own 10. That enabled the Tigers to start their drive on Whitewater’s 27. They found the end zone through the air this time, Powell hitting Nash out in the flat and letting him use his speed to get to the corner for an 11-yard touchdown. Nash had a little more magic in him for the point after as the holder, calmly corralling a bad snap and throwing it to JaMarcus Williamson for a two-point conversion and a 15-0 lead.
Whitewater thought they had an answer, setting up a series deep in Fayette territory after a Kevin Schachle fumble recovery. Jalen Jenkins hit Nic Watson for 19 yards to get in close, but a tackle in the backfield by Terase Hagans on third down looked like it stopped them. The Wildcats lined up for a fake field goal, Luke Allen setting up at kicker and taking the ball in for a touchdown, but a penalty negated it. The ensuing attempt missed to keep their side of the scoreboard empty.
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