Montrell Kelley looks for room to run against St. Pius. (Staff Photos by Christopher Dunn)

The Fayette County Tigers may have been eliminated from the playoffs on Friday night, but they have plenty to be proud of. The Tigers gave the St. Pius X Golden Lions everything they had in a 24-0 loss.

“I’m truly proud of them,” said Fayette coach Mike Davis.  “We battled. We battled through a tough schedule. We had kids going both ways. We had kids playing hurt. I’m proud of them for playing hard and finishing.”

Hopefully this is the start of something special for the Tigers. They already pulled an impressive turnaround.

“When you go from 1-9 to the playoffs the next year, that’s huge,” said Davis. “This is our kids’ first time being in the playoffs in seven years. We’re going to build on it. We’re going to stay positive.”

Fayette faced a daunting task against a top-ten team. They gave up 323 yards rushing against a fierce attack, but limited in their trips to the end zone.

St. Pius used their bruising ground game to control the tempo. Their opening drive covered 68 yards and chewed up ten minutes of clock. By the end of their second drive, the Golden Lions were up 14-0 after converting on fourth and goal from the one with only seven minutes left in the first half. They tacked on three more points on their following drive with a 44-yard field goal after the Tiger defense stiffened.

Daveion Nash fends off a defender.

Fayette looked like they would be able to get on the board late in the half. They ate up 43 yards in two plays as Daveion Nash scrambled for 19 yards then hit Sean Ancrum on a swing pass for 13 on the next play. They got a little tricky for their next first down, running a hook and ladder from Nash to Robert Easterwood, who flipped to Ancrum for 11 yards.

Unfortunately, all of the clock that Pius ate up came into play as the Tigers had to stop short and attempt a long field goal at the buzzer. The 40-yard attempt was tipped at the line to keep it at 17-0.

The Tiger offense kept moving in spurts, opening the second half up with a third-down conversion on a 34-yard hookup between Nash and Easterwood. A big sack would stall the drive, though.

Fayette would later return the favor as Tyler Brown tore through the line for a huge sack to kill a St. Pius drive. The Lions were forced to punt, but James Hawkins burst through and blocked it with Brown falling on the ball.

The Tigers started just past midfield for another promising drive. It wouldn’t end well, thanks to the officiating. A bit more fancy playcalling moved the chains on third and fifteen when Nash tossed the ball back to Easterwood, who then hit Nash up the sideline for a key play. They looked like they had the ball down in the red zone after a screen to Easterwood was opened up by a bone-jarring block by MyJhan Wheeler, but Wheeler was flagged for a mysterious unsportsmanlike conduct infraction. Backed up farther, Nash gunned it deep to Easterwood who was shoved down by the Pius corner who picked it off. No flag on the Lions.

St. Pius took advantage of their gifts and drove down the field for an insurance touchdown in the 24-0 victory.

This season is over, but it won’t be too long before the Tigers will be back at work towards another postseason push.

“The juniors we’ve got coming back are awesome. They’re leaders. They get after it pretty good,” Davis said. “We’re going to give them a chance to heal up, to lick their wounds a little bit. Once that happens, we’ll get them going for next year.”