Home sweet home. After two trying weeks on the road, Fayette County returned to the friendly confines of the Tiger Den and celebrated the opening of their refurbished home in style, sprinting away from the Mundy’s Mill Tigers in the second half for a 42-23 victory.
“It’s good to be on a full field. We’ve been practicing on a half field all (offseason) waiting for the field to be done, so it’s a great way to open it up,” said head coach Mike Davis. “It was a good night for us. I’m excited for us.”
Fueled by the excitement of breaking in their gorgeous new turf field, Fayette opened the game aggressively. Jalil Dabney took it up the gut for 8 yards on the first snap, and they caught the defense napping for a 24-yard run on a Reggie Booker reverse. With the defense cheating up against the run, JeKobe Coleman went to the play action pass, popping it over the top to Cory Andrews for 15 yards. It worked just as well on the next play with Booker as the recipient. He bounced off defenders and carried another across the goal line on a 30-yard catch and run. The extra point was blocked as the Tigers jumped out to a 6-0 lead just over a minute into the game.
It was a promising start as Fayette had lost by a wide margin in their first two games.
“Even though we got blown out the first two games, we told them to just hang in there and it will be okay, and it showed tonight,” said Davis.
“We had two losses in the beginning, but Coach (Davis) picked us up,” he said. “I really feel like this is a good start for us, and it’s going to continue like this.”
Mundy’s Mill’s first drive was marred by penalties and miscues as they slowly moved from their own 36 into the red zone before backing back up to midfield. Fayette gifted them momentum via pass interference and roughing the passer penalties before the defense took it away. Quarterback Kendall Boney was swarmed by the Fayette blitz as Michael Robinson and Desmond Omigie pinched in and knocked the ball loose. It bounced upfield where Booker tried to corral it, but it was knocked loose and made it back to just past midfield where Jared Nedd fell on it.
“I’m proud of my defense. We played really hard,” said Samples. “I love it when we play with this kind of intensity. It inspires me to go harder every game.”
Setting up on Mundy’s Mill’s half of the field, Fayette bogged down and faced 4th and 2. Dabney swept around the right end to move the chains, and Andrews gouged the defense for 25 yards. Facing 4th and inches at the goal line, The 6’5″ Shane Leinberger came in at quarterback and bulled his way into the end zone.
Lining up at holder on the apparent extra point attempt, Coleman took the snap and rolled out to his right. Facing pressure, he hopped and threw the ball over the top to Andrews who caught it short of the goal line and drug a defender with him, stretching the ball just past the stripe for a successful two-point conversion and a 14-0 lead.
Mundy’s Mill got on the board with a lot of help from their special teams, blocking a punt to start inside the red zone. An Omigie sack pushed them back to 4th and 15, but Boney hit Romario Waithe for a touchdown to slice the deficit in half.
They looked ready to erase it completely as they pounced on a botched snap on the next series to start in the red zone again, but the Fayette defense turned them away.
The 14-7 lead held into halftime, but Fayette came out of the break reenergized. Omigie and Jaylan Coleman combined for a sack, knocking the ball loose for a Robinson recovery. Setting up on the Mundy’s Mill 23, the Tigers struck quickly with a 15-yard Dabney run setting up a 1-yard Andrews plunge. Aaron Hauck’s extra point staked them to a 21-7 lead.
Fayette extended their lead late in the third quarter with a bit of trickery. On 4th and 7 and lined up to punt, Andrews took the direct snap and sprinted around the right end for 11 yards to move the chains. On the next play, Dabney took a handoff up the gut and sprinted 25 yards untouched to extend their lead.
Mundy’s Mill found their first big play of the night, hitting on a 66-yard bomb from Boney to Nick Manson to get back within 28-15.
Unfazed, Dabney answered with a 61-yard sprint through the heart of the defense to bump the lead back to 20 points.
“Shout out to the offensive line. That’s where it starts on offense, and they were opening big holes,” said Dabney. “I’m glad that we were able to play as a team and execute and come out with a win.”
Fayette’s pass rush wreaked havoc the next time out, Karlen Samples registering a solo sack, and Robinson and Javon Coleman teaming up for one to force Mundy’s Mill to punt deep in their own end. A bad snap set the Tigers up on the seven, and they didn’t waste the prime position. Andrews punched it in on the next play to put the game out of reach at 42-15 with six minutes to play.
Mundy’s Mill hit paydirt one more time on a long touchdown pass, but the game was out of reach as Fayette scored their first win of 2017.
Jalil Dabney paced a rushing attack that totaled 374 yards and 9.6 yards a carry with 189 yards and 2 touchdowns on 18 carries. Cory Andrews picked up 160 yards and 2 scores on 20 carries.
JeKobe Coleman added 54 yards passing and 1 touchdown. Reggie Booker caught one pass for a 30-yard touchdown and had one carry for 25 yards.
“This is a total turnaround,” said Davis. “We’re young, and we made young mistakes early, but my prayer is that we just continue to grow and continue to get better.”
They will try to keep the momentum going this week with another road game at Pike County.
“I want them to latch on. I want them to keep buying in and keep working hard,” said Davis. “I believe they will. They’re young so they’re impressionable. I see some good things.”
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