It was a game of tortoise and the hare Friday night at Virgil Schwarm Stadium.
The big-play offense of Hamilton High School’s football team faced off against the punishing ground game of Fairmont with speed winning out as Big Blue outlasted the visiting Firebirds 35-28.
HHS stopped Fairmont inches short of a first down at the Big Blue 13 with a minute to go to seal the win and improve to 2-0 for the first time since 2008. Fairmont dropped to 0-2.
“It feels real good to be 2-0,” HHS coach Chad Murphy said. “They came in with a game plan to keep the ball out of our hands and they did that, but our defense made the big plays when they had to.”
Hamilton jumped out 21-7, but behind a surging ground game, the Firebirds came storming back to tie at 28 midway though the final quarter.
Eric Jackson hit Daquan Maffett on a 72-yard score, Maleek Jarrett scored on a 2-yard run and Alex Oseguera returned a fumble 13 yards for a score as HHS exploded for 21 first-quarter points
Fairmont ran off 22 plays to Big Blue’s three in the second quarter but yielded an 85-yard Johnny Jones kickoff return following Dylan Krieger’s TD plunge with 10 seconds left in the half.
“That was huge,” Murphy said. “We talked this week about getting (Jones) more touches and that return is why.”
The Firebirds opened the second half with a 14-play drive that last nine minutes and 30 seconds, cutting the deficit to seven before tying the game on a Miles Johnson plunge in the fourth.
Kennon Burroughs led the running game with 98 yards, while Krieger added 92 yards and two scores. At one point, Fairmont had run 45 plays to seven for HHS.
The Firebirds rushed 71 times for 360 yards, throwing the ball only four times. HHS ran 32 total plays for 286 yards.
Fairmont had possession for nearly 31 minutes, but it was all for naught to coach Dave Miller.
“We just can’t get out of our own way sometimes,” Miller said. “The effort is definitely there, but we keep making mistakes.”
On the ball control, Miller added, “You are supposed to win. It is definitely a positive, but we can’t make the same mistakes and win.”
Jackson had a big game for HHS, throwing for 130 yards and a score while also rushing for 123 and a TD.
Next Friday, Hamilton hosts Kings and Fairmont will be at home against Sycamore.
F: Dylan Krieger 3 run (Miles Johnson kick)
H: Daquan Maffett 72 pass from Eric Jackson (Trace Sword kick)
H: Maleek Jarrett 2 run (Sword kick)
H: Alex Oseguera 13 fumble return (Sword kick)
F: Krieger 4 run (Johnson kick)
H: Johnny Jones 85 kickoff return (Sword kick)
F: Darnell Boulware 3 run (Johnson kick)
F: Johnson 1 run (Johnson kick)
H: Jackson 3 run (Sword kick)