JuTahn McClain had to settle for just being great Friday night.
The Fairfield High School junior running back rushed for a career-high 210 yards and three touchdowns against visiting Princeton, yet had a pair of TDs negated by penalties in the first eight minutes, including a 96-yard kickoff return.
“You’ve got to wipe it off and keep going,” McClain said after his Indians fashioned a 31-13 Greater Miami Conference football victory at Fairfield Stadium. “I’m proud of my team. We’re a family, and I think that helps us a lot. It’s brought us closer as a unit and helps us execute on the field.”
WEEK 6 FOOTBALL COVERAGE
The Indians forged a 439-240 advantage in yardage and tallied 24 unanswered points after the Vikings knotted the contest at 7-7 with 4:46 left in the first quarter.
Fairfield improved to 5-1 overall and 4-0 in the GMC. The Indians are tied with Colerain and Mason for the top spot in the conference.
“I’m feeling good at 5-1,” Fairfield coach Jason Krause said. “The Week 2 loss to Springfield obviously still stings a little bit, but the kids aren’t dwelling on that. For us, it’s about moving on. I think that’s where we are mentally with this group.
“I really liked our physicality tonight on both sides of the ball. I think everybody that watched the game probably felt it was a little bit ugly, but an ugly win is still a win. And Princeton’s a good football team. They’re definitely not a 1-5 team.”
The Vikings are indeed 1-5 overall and 1-3 in the conference, but three forfeits because of an ineligible player did most of the damage to their record.
Princeton played without injured quarterback Hosea Hairston on Friday and had a short bench thanks to a junior varsity fight with Middletown last week.
“We had 32 kids who played their butts off,” Vikings coach Mike Daniels said. “We’ll go right back to the drawing board. I love all of them. They’ve been through a lot.
“For them to go through what they went through these last two weeks and compete like they did tonight, it tells me they’re maturing. This game of football and this game of life are about lessons and growing and understanding and building character. Their character is being built because of all the adversity.”
Princeton junior Dorian Durham converted 11-of-24 passes for 213 yards and connected with Jermaine Wimpye and Sterling Berkhalter for long touchdowns.
It was a 14-7 affair in the second stanza when the Vikings drove to the FHS 9-yard line, only to watch Durham get picked off by Jaydan Mayes at the goal line. Nick Maddy’s 34-yard field goal closed the first half and made it 17-7.
“Humongous,” Krause said of Mayes’ interception. “That was a huge stop for us, probably our game-changer. And he’s just a sophomore. I think he had a really good night. Watching him defend, he was in position all night long.”
Fairfield’s defense was typically stout against the run, giving up 27 yards on 25 carries. Junior outside linebacker Dealo McIntosh paced the Indians with eight total tackles and four tackles for loss.
“Just doing my job,” McIntosh said. “I thought we had a great day. Stopping them in the run, that’s just being strong and quick up front. We knew we were going to be stronger coming out at halftime.”
“I think we do a really good job against the run. We’re physical and strong inside the box,” Krause said. “We’re still trying to find our way a little bit in the secondary, but I think we’re getting better each week back there.”
The Fairfield offense got another solid showing from quarterback Jeff Tyus, who was 12-of-17 for 183 yards and hit Erick All for a touchdown.
McClain carried the ball 27 times. It would’ve been easy to show some discouragement after the two early touchdowns were erased, but Krause said that’s not McClain’s M.O.
“What makes him so special is he’s a great practice player,” the Fairfield coach said. “He doesn’t take plays off, not even in practice. I think that’s why he’s in such good shape. He’s fast, but he’s not one of those guys that’s just fast. He makes great cuts. He’s got great vision. He runs hard. He pass protects. He’s just a tough, tough football player.”
Said McClain, “The whole team was doing what they had to do. That just opened it up for me, and it was easy for me to get what I got.”
Princeton piled up 11 penalties for 95 yards, while the Indians had seven for 59. Fairfield turned the ball over twice in the first half, with Bryce Burton recovering a fumble and Wimpye intercepting a Tyus pass.
Both teams will play at home next Friday, the Vikings vs. Oak Hills and the Indians vs. Sycamore.
F: JuTahn McClain 11 run (Elgin Phillips kick)
P: Jermaine Wimpye 57 pass from Dorian Durham (Bryce Burton kick)
F: McClain 2 run (Phillips kick)
F: Nick Maddy 34 field goal
F: Erick All 12 pass from Jeff Tyus (Phillips kick)
F: McClain 35 run (Phillips kick)
P: Sterling Berkhalter 64 pass from Durham (Kick failed)