Cardinals hold off Titans, 29-27
Kallenbach runs for 2 TDs, passes for 2 scores to top Fairmont's victory
MONTGOMERY — A first-half defensive standoff between South Central District Red football rivals Fairmont and Tri-City United morphed into a second-half offensive shootout on Friday night in Montgomery.
Quarterback Nate Kallenbach connected for two touchdown tosses, scampered for two more scores, kicked three extra points and caught a 2-point conversion pass from Garrett Myren for what proved to be the final margin behind the visiting Cardinals’ 29-27 victory over the tenacious Titans.
“I thought that Nate’s second touchdown run on the heels of (linebacker) Collin Steuber’s interception was a huge play to stake us to a 16-point lead (29-13),” said Fairmont head coach Mat Mahoney. “Give credit to TCU – they refused to quit during the final 4 minutes of regulation, but our guys battled and held them off in the end.”
Junior quarterback Peyton Collins displayed his passing prowess with the Titans trailing two TDs and two 2-point conversions. Collins, who finished with a game-best 303 passing yards, launched a perfect 63-yard sideline strike to Tyler Sladek for a score only 15 seconds after Kallenbach’s second TD run – a 5-yarder at the 4:19 juncture.
TCU ‘s defense held its ground to force a three-and-out Fairmont offensive series before Collins unleashed a towering 85-yard missile to Justin Kopet to whittle the Cardinals’ lead to 29-27 with 2:38 remaining. Ironically, Kopet just missed catching Collins’ 2-point pass from 15 yards out on the point-after attempt.
The Titans then booted the ensuing kickoff out-of-bounds, and Kallenbach and running back Mario Maldonado did the rest to maintain possession of the football despite back-to-back TCU facemask penalties to chew up real estate and the time remaining in regulation.
“I have to give credit to Brad Johnson for earning his 100th win as a defensive coordinator for the Fairmont football program,” said Mahoney. “That was a back-and-forth slugfest tonight, and we weathered it.
“It wasn’t pretty tonight, but I’ll take an ugly one over a pretty loss.”
Ironically, the opening half proved a series of stonewalling defense. Wyatt Quiring’s 37-yard shovel pass catch-and-sprint from Kallenbach, followed by Kallenbach’s PAT kick created a 7-0 lead at the 4:54 mark of the first quarter.
Collins, however, used his legs to churn out yardage before eventually scoring on a diving and extended 1-yard plunge with 8:46 left before halftime. Jack Skluzacek wobbled the PAT kick through the uprights and just over the crossbar to knot the game at 7-all.
Josh Schwarz’s interception with 1:27 remaining before halftime nearly produced points for TCU, but linebacker Collin Steuber delivered a clutch 13-yard QB sack to back up the Titans’ offense from a first-and-goal at the 1 via a penalty to the 14.
Fairmont cornerback Daniel Reiter alertly tipped away a third-down pass toward the end zone before Cardinals’ safety Sam Schwieger denied the Titans points just before intermission by snaring a clutch interception for a touchback as the half ended.
Sladek’s interception, combined with Kopet’s 49-yard reception from Collins, set up Collins’ go-ahead 4-yard TD run before the Cardinals’ Myren blocked the PAT kick at the 5:44 mark in the third quarter.
Kallenbach, who completed 12 of 22 passes for 201 yards, spiraled a pivotal 45-yard sideline completion to Dustin Schultz to eventually set up Brady Allen’s 25-yard TD catch. Allen made a twisting, over-the-shoulder grab before Kallenbach kicked the PAT for a 14-13 edge with 1:07 left in the third.
Kallenbach’s 36-yard connection to Quiring highlighted the Cardinals’ intial fourth-quarter march to paydirt, with the senior QB weaving his way into the end zone from 5 yards out at the 8:43 juncture in the fourth frame.
Steuber’s leaping snare and 20-yard return to the TCU 10 led to Kallenbach’s next 5-yard sprint up the middle. Myren transformed a low long snap into a 2-point conversion pass to Kallenbach for a 29-13 lead with 4:19 showing.
Quiring made five receptions for 103 yards and a score for Fairmont, while Kopet topped all receivers with 163 yards on five catches for TCU.
Linebacker Zac Ringnell added a fourth-quarter interception for the Cardinals.
Fairmont (3-1, 2-1 district) plays host to Albert Lea next Friday night for Homecoming at Mahoney Field.
Tri-City United (1-3, 1-3) plays host to Jordan next Friday night in Montgomery.
F-Wyatt Quiring 37 pass from Nate Kallenbach (Kallenbach kick), 4:54.
TCU-Peyton Collins 1 run (Jack Skluzacek kick), 8:46.
TCU-Collins 4 run (kick blocked), 5:44.
F-Brady Allen 25 pass from Kallenbach (Kallenbach kick), 1:07.
F-Kallenbach 5 run (Kallenbach kick), 8:43.
F-Kallenbach 5 run (Kallenbach pass from Garrett Myren), 4:19.
TCU-Tyler Sladek 63 pass from Collins (Collins run), 4:04.
TCU-Justin Kopet 85 pass from Collins (pass failed), 2:38.
First downs: FHS 14; TCU 12. Rushing: FHS 36-107; TCU 22-49. Passing: TCU 17-42-3-303; FHS 12-22-2-201. Fumbles-lost: FHS 1-0; TCU 2-0. Penalties: FHS 5-55; TCU 7-66.
Offense: Rushing: Mario Maldonado (F) 16-63; Collins (TCU) 16-54. Passing: Collins (TCU) 17-42-3-303; Kallenbach (FHS) 12-22-2-201. Receiving: Quiring (F) 5-103, Brady Allen (F) 2-41, Dustin Schultz (F) 1-45; Kopet (TCU) 5-163, Zach Sexe (TCU) 5-37.
Defense: Interceptions: Josh Schwarz (TCU), Sam Schwieger (F), Tyler Sladek (TCU), Zac Ringnell (F), Collin Steuber (F).