Fairmont crowns St. James, 35-0
FAIRMONT – Fairmont offensive coordinator Andy Traetow’s unit amassed 360 total yards, while Cardinal defensive coordinator Brad Johnson’s 4-3 alignment allowed only 63 yards on Friday night.
Quarterback Spencer Chirpich completed 9 of 10 passes for 219 yards and four touchdowns, split end Luke Becker made six catches for 133 yards and two scores, while running back Derek Edman cleared the century mark in rushing to fuel Fairmont’s 35-0 Homecoming triumph over the St. James Saints at Mahoney Field.
Ironically, the Cardinals generated those lofty statistics just 14 seconds shy of one completed half of South Central Conference football action in Fairmont.
Chirpich’s 11-yard scramble to St. James’ 11-yard line set up a first down-and-10 situation when lightning filled the darkened skies above Mahoney Field, forcing the officiating crew to send both teams to their respective lockerrooms early.
After Fairmont mentor Mat Mahoney and St. James head coach Jeff Whitney talked during the intermission, the outcome was deemed a final.
“We looked in the (Minnesota State High School League) rulebook and discovered that if both head coaches and the game’s officials agree, a game can be ended at any time due to any circumstance, such as (inclement) weather,” said Mahoney.
Fairmont proceeded to storm out of the fieldhouse before thundering its way to a game-opening 80-yard scoring drive on five consecutive runs.
Edman hammered through the holes created by offensive linemen Nick Roggow, Zach Brown, Bailey Koppen, Luis Figueroa and Tadd Abel, along with Homecoming king and tight end Jay Ruen, to generate 43 of his game-high 104 rushing yards to reach the Saints’ 37.
Freshman fullback Chris Fausch then broke a tackle near the line of scrimmage, cut right and accelerated into the end zone for the first TD of his varsity career. Kolin Kelly then kicked the first of his five straight PATs to stake Fairmont to an early 7-0 lead with 9:44 left in the opening quarter.
After Cardinals’ linebacker Tim Tow and Co. forced a three-and-out situation, Becker made a tackle-evading 25-yard punt return to put Chirpich in business at the Saints’ 43.
Chirpich needed only two snaps to reach paydirt on the heels of a 1-yard loss via a run. Chirpich rolled left and unleashed a towering spiral to split end Josh Eversman for a 44-yard scoring strike. Kelly kicked the PAT to double the gap to 14-0 with 7:51 left in the first quarter.
Ruen, defensive tackle Michael Hawkins and linebacker Ben Abel combined to create another quick St. James punt.
Edman pounded out 14 yards on the ground before Becker and Chirpich connected for a 14-yard completion to reach the 42. Two plays later, Chirpich zipped a strike to Becker, who caught the missile along the St. James sideline, slashed and juked toward the middle of the gridiron before sprinting the last 20 of his 59-yard TD catch. Kelly’s PAT kick made it 21-0 with 3:46 remaining in the opening segment.
Tow’s shoulder pad-rocking hit and lineman Kory Brown’s stop forced another Saints’ punt, with Becker weaving his way 29 yards to the visitors’ 26.
Chirpich lofted a perfect fade pass to Eversman in the end zone on the next play before Kelly’s kick extended the margin to 28-0 with 1:47 showing on the scoreboard.
After back-to-back penalty-filled sequences that resulted in two St. James players and one Fairmont player being ejected for unsportsmanlike conduct, Ruen, Tow and the Fairmont defense created another St. James punting scenario.
Chirpich went to the airwaves again, lofting a 27-yard scoring spiral to the sure-handed Becker for six more points. Kelly’s PAT kick pushed the home team’s lead to 35-0 with 2:48 left in the opening half.
Edman’s tackle-breaking 37-yard rumble along the Fairmont sideline had the Cardinals at the St. James doorstep when lightning forced the postponement and eventual complete-game ruling with 14 seconds left before intermission.
Eversman caught three passes for 86 yards and two TDs for the Cardinals, while running back Ryan Menssen ran eight times of 36 yards to top the Saints.
Kody Curry produced the only turnover of the game by intercepting a Chirpich pass in the second quarter.
Fairmont (4-2, 2-1 SCC) travels to Wilson Field in Blue Earth next Friday night for a 7 p.m. conference clash with Class 3A, No. 6-ranked Blue Earth Area.
St. James (2-4, 1-2) hits the road to Class 4A, No. 8-ranked Waseca next Friday.
St. James 0 0 x x – 0
Fairmont 28 7 x x – 35
F – Chris Fausch 37 run (Kolin Kelly kick), 9:44.
F – Josh Eversman 44 pass from Spencer Chirpich (Kelly kick), 7:51.
F – Luke Becker 59 pass from Chirpich (Kelly kick), 3:46.
F – Eversman 26 pass from Chirpich (Kelly kick), 1:47.
F – Becker 27 pass from Chirpich (Kelly kick), 2:48.
First downs: Fairmont 7; St. James 4. Rushing: Fairmont 15-141; St. James 15-31. Passing (Comp-Att-Int-Yards): Fairmont 9-10-1-219; St. James 4-15-0-32. Fumbles-lost: Fairmont 1-0; St. James 1-0. Penalties: Fairmont 5-52; St. James 5-50.
Offense: Rushing: Derek Edman (F) 9-104, Fausch (F) 2-40; Ryan Menssen (SJ) 8-36. Passing: Chirpich (F) 9-10-1-219; Walker Froehling (SJ) 4-15-0-32. Receiving: Becker (F) 6-133, Eversman (F) 3-86; Kody Curry (SJ) 1-21, Justin Stevens (SJ) 1-12, Menssen (SJ) 1-3.
Defense: Interception: Curry (SJ).