WORTHINGTON - Who will be Fairmont's starting quarterback for the Cardinals' home football opener against the Marshall Tigers at Mahoney Field during Week 2?
The question appeared a moot point after Fairmont coasted to a season-opening 47-15 triumph over the Worthington Trojans on Friday night at Trojan Field.
Split end Bryce Holm pocketed a game-best seven catches for 116 yards and three touchdowns, running back Brandon Martin pounded out 79 yards and two more scores on a dozen totes, while the Cardinals' first-team defense allowed only 57 rushing yards to fuel the 32-point non-league decision on the road.
SPLITTING THE DEFENSE — Fairmont split end Bryce Holm (middle) makes a catch in the space between Worthington cornerback Tristan Sorenson (12), linebacker Zach Kempema (44) and defensive tackle Carson Hagen (right) during season-opening nonconference football action Friday night at Trojan Field in Worthington. Fairmont receiver Mark Fruechte (back) watches the action. Photo by Leanna Becker
Fairmont's rotating signal-calling tandem of senior starter Luke Hested and junior Mitch Pfingsten combined for 199 yards and three TDs behind 14-for-23 passing. Hested delivered a game-leading 151 yards and one TD on 9 of 13 passing, while Pfingsten connected on 5 of 10 throws for 48 yards and a pair of scores.
"We (coaching staff) still don't know which one is our clear-cut starter as both quarterbacks bring something different to the offense," said Cardinal mentor Mat Mahoney, who also received 46 more passing yards and one TD from sophomore QB Spencer Chirpich to push the three-pronged attack's passing total to 245 yards.
"Overall, I thought we played three great phases of the game tonight. Our defense really stepped up, while our different looks on offense really kept them (the Trojans) off-balanced," said Mahoney.
After defensive tackle Bailey Koppen and linebacker Levi Becker limited Worthington's initial series to three-and-out, Hested went to work through the airwaves to quickly put points on the scoreboard.
Hested hit split end Mark Fruechte on a quick-hitter for seven yards before zipping a 24-yarder to tight end Jay Ruen on a crossing route to reach the Trojans' 17-yard line.
Martin did the rest, colliding with a Worthington defender just past the line of scrimmage before steamrolling his way into the end zone. Holm then garnered Josh Eversman's halfback option pass for two more points to stake the Cardinals to an 8-0 lead with 8:47 left in the first quarter.
Fairmont linebacker Levi Becker then intercepted Trojan QB Will Dudley's pass at the home team's 32 three snaps later only to have Worthington's Trevor Wietzema live a defensive lineman's dream. Morgan Traylor, a 6-foot-5 end, batted Hested's pass into the air and the 6-3, 240-pound Wietzema caught the carom and rumbled 80 yards to paydirt. Dudley ran home the 2-point conversion to knot the game at 8-all at the 4:39 juncture of the opening segment.
Martin, however, displayed his special-teams skills by grabbing the Trojans' ensuing short kickoff and bulldozed his way 43 yards to reach the Worthington 37.
Pfingsten then fired a perfect 15-yard post pattern pass to Holm to cap the Cardinals' six-play scoring drive for a 14-8 edge with 1:55 remaining in the first frame.
Koppen and lineman Nick Roggow later spearheaded Fairmont's defensive stand during the second quarter to regain possession via a punt.
Hested zipped home a perfect 31-yard crossing pass to Holm to trigger the 72-yard march before hitting Holm along the left sideline for a 29-yard scoring strike only four snaps later. Martin bulled across the goal line for two more points and a 22-8 lead with 1:11 left before halftime.
Despite Randy Traylor's fumble recovery at the Trojans' own 44 to open the third quarter, linebacker Kyle Guetter and Roggow stiffened on defense to deny Worthington any points.
Pfingsten capped the Cardinals' seven-play, 59-yard scoring drive with an 18-yard fade pass to Holm before Chirpich kicked the PAT for a 28-8 edge at the 5:07 mark of the third.
Linebacker Ryan Noll's fumble recovery at the Trojans' 35 put Fairmont back in business only one play later. Martin actually slipped through a left-hash seam for a 7-yard TD sprint before Chirpich nailed the PAT kick for a 27-point edge with 2:35 left in the third.
Hested re-entered the game to hook up with Noll on a 19-yard connection to highlight the Cardinals' next march into the end zone. Josh Eversman sprinted around right end for a 20-yard TD to extend the visitors' margin to 41-8 at the 7:54 mark.
Aaron Pavelko scored on a 1-yard blast for the Trojans, while Chirpich tossed a perfect 32-yard scoring pass to Ben Abel to close out the fourth frame's TDs.
Fairmont (1-0) plays host to Marshall at 7 p.m. next Friday night at Mahoney Field, while Worthington (0-1) travels to Jackson County Central.