BY JIM STEELE
FAYETTEVILLE (November 12) – Fayetteville turned away a tough challenge by visiting Dresden in the second round of the Class A state playoffs Friday night, 28-13.
Dresden took advantage of some early good fortune to lead 7-6 as the two teams headed into the second quarter, but from that point on, the Lions suffered the wrath of a pretty stingy Tiger defense.
“That was one of the best defensive teams I’ve ever coached against,” said Dresden coach Keith Hodge. “They have lots of team speed, get off blocks well and don’t let anybody get outside.”
Fayetteville returned the opening kickoff back to the Dresden 5-yard line and scored when Aljarea Johnson’s took it in two plays later. The conversion failed. The Tigers forced a Dresden punt but fumbled the return, offering the Lions premium field position.
The Lions reached into their bag of tricks and scored. On a double-pass play, Raymond Johnson connected with Chandler Turnbow for a 16-yard TD. After the extra point, Dresden held a 7-6 lead. From there, Fayetteville’s defense imposed its will. Dresden struggled to find any kind of offensive rhythm the rest of the way.
“We just could not run the ball, and that’s a big part of what we do,” said Hodge.
Fayetteville regained the lead in the opening moments of the second frame when Graham Pace scored from the 1. The try for two succeeded and the Tigers took a 14-7 advantage, one they would not relinquish. Just before the break, Tiger quarterback Sam Holdmeyer connected with Isaiah Thomison for an 11-yard TD aerial. The Tigers led 21-7 at the break.
Mid way in the fourth quarter, Holdmeyer located Corian Cash for an 11-yard score and a 28-7 lead. Dresden did score on the last play of the game when Trey Eddings covered 30 yards for a touchdown.
“Our defense played outstanding I thought,” Hodge said. “They had one big play, but we had guys flying around all over the place.”
The coach said he was pleased with how his team responded.
“It’s tough coming in here in early July and trying to install everything we need to do Xs-and-Os-wise. That’s hard to do,” Hodge said. “They did a heck of a job with it. We had a couple of games slip through our fingers, but I was proud of the way the guys took hold of what we were trying to do.”
The coach said his team will conduct off-season workouts soon.
“We have a lot coming back next year,” Hodge said. “We’re excited to get started on next season.”
The Lions conclude their season as Region 6A runners-up with an 8-4 campaign. Fayetteville, 11-1, hosts the No. 1-ranked McKenzie Rebels, 12-0, this Friday night in the Class A quarterfinals.