For the last couple of weeks, the dominant talk around the Fairfield Mules has been “the streak”—the four straight games without allowing a point to start the season. It dominated the conversation enough it was becoming a distraction.
Distraction no more, as the Carmi-White County Bulldogs scored on their opening drive of the game Friday, and took an 8-0 lead on Justin Townsends’s Mules. The Mules, however, responded with 40 unanswered points and improved to 5-0 with a 40-8 win at the Train Yard.
“It was inevitable. Eventually, someone is going to score on you. Our kids responded right back and went after that,” Townsend said. “That is what you want to do when a team does that–comes right out and scores on you first drive. For us, that was maybe a good thing, to see a little adversity.”
Kurt Simon’s Dawgs drove 67 yards on their first drive, helped by a Mule pass interference for their first first down of the game. Mahone ran the ball six times on the nine-play drive, before throwing a 25-yard touchdown pass to Jaedon Reeder.
“We tried not to let the pressure of all that get to us, and just played the best football we can. Our defense came out really strong. We had a little slip-up on that (touchdown), but we knew game plan-wise what we needed to do, and we executed from there on out,” senior safety Cayden Taylor said after the game.
Carmi’s offense had 52 yards of offense on that drive, and then 65 on the final drive of the game against the subs. In between, the Mules’ vaunted defense allowed just four yards.
Fairfield outgained Carmi 422-141, led by two backs running for more than 100 yards each. Left wingback Wyatt Gilbert, the BDC’s leading rusher, ran for 129 yards and two touchdowns, while right wingback Cade Carter ran for 114 and three touchdowns, and added two catches for 31 yards and another touchdown. Fullback Kaleb Wells added 76 yards rumbling up the middle.
“Cade had a heck of a night. The first couple of weeks it was Wyatt, Landon (Zurliene) had a big week last week throwing. This week it was Cade. It is hard for teams. And it all starts with the big guys up front too,” Townsend noted.
After falling behind for the first time this year, the Mules needed just three plays to answer, getting a 23-yard touchdown for his first score.
Carter then picked off Mahon to help the Mules with field position, setting up a Wyatt Gilbert 29-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter to put Fairfield in front.
Fairfield really got rolling with a little luck on the next kickoff. Trying to kick it low and away from the deep backs, Carter hit a Carmi blocker in the helmet with his kick and Cayden Taylor recovered.
Carter rumbled 43 yards on the very next play and the Mules were off and running with a 22-8 lead.
“That kind of got us going, gave us some momentum and allowed us to get more comfortable offensively,” Townsend noted.
After a three-and-out by Carmi, the Mules went up 28-8 on Carter’s 25-yard touchdown catch from junior quarterback Landon Zurliene midway through the second. The Mules took that 28-8 lead into halftime.
Fairfield fumbled the ball away on a sack by Eric Mills on their first possession of the second half, but the Bulldogs lost two yards on their next possession before punting away.
Carter’s fourth score, in the third quarter, put the Mules up 34-8. That finished off a six-play, 71-yard drive, all on the ground.
Gilbert scored on the first play of the fourth quarter for the 40-8 final. That finished off an 11-play drive, the Mules’ longest of the game. Fairfield converted two third downs on the drive before scoring on a fourth-and-1.
The Mules subbed in their second-string running backs on the next drive and still marched down to the Carmi six before turning the ball lover on downs with 3:40 to go. Carmi ran out the clock with their final possession.
Defensively, Jonathon Scott led the Mules with 4.5 total tackles, including three solos. Ike Downen also had three solos, and an assists. He added a sack and 2.5 tackles for loss. Downen was able to play more defense this week with left tackle Bryce Garner returning from an offseason injury.
Carter had three solos as well, to go with an interception, 114 rushing yards, 31 receiving yards and four total touchdowns.
Fairfield (5-0) is at Hamilton County next week. Carmi (3-2) is at Eldorado. The Mules will be attempting to win their 26th straight BDC game, which would tie the conference record currently held by Johnston City. They set that mark in the Mike Rude era in the early 90s.
“The Foxes are coming off a big win. They upset Eldorado. We are going to have to be ready to go, no doubt about that. They will be fired up,” Townsend concluded.
The game was both Rotary Night and Armed Forces Night. The Mules honored veterans, including special jerseys and coin flip participation.
1 2 3 4 F
Carmi (3-2) 8 0 0 0 8
Fairfield (5-0) 8 20 6 6 40
C—Jaedon Reeder 25-yard pass from Ethan Mahon (Luke Simon pass from Ethan Mahon), 7:28.
F—Cade Carter 23-yard run (Wyatt Gilbert run), 6:19.
F—Wyatt Gilbert 29-yard run (pass failed), 10:01.
F—Cade Carter 43-yard run (Landon Zurliene run), 9:50.
F—Cade Carter 25-yard pass from Landon Zurliene), 6:11.
F—Cade Carter 9-yard run (kick failed), 6:04.
F—Wyatt Gilbert 1-yard run (run failed), 11:55
19 First Downs 8
50-382 Rushing 33-97
3-8-0 Pass-Att-Int 5-10-44
40 Passing Yards 44
422 Total Offense 141
7/13 3rd down conv 3/11
1/4 4th down conv 0/2
1-1 Fumbles-Lost 1/1
1 Turnovers 2
5-45 Penalty 2/15
0 Punts-Ave. 6-24.2
24:23 Time of Possession 23:37
F – Wyatt Gilbert 10-129-2, Cade Carter 11-114-3, Kaleb Wells 11-76, Blake Pruitt 6-39, Colin Massie 5-19, Cameron Gardner 4-7, Landon Zurliene 3-(-2). CWC – Jaedon Reeder 4-48, Ethan Mahon 18-45, Luke Simon 6-16, Branten Stockton 1-2, Sean Ackerman 1-0, Warren Legg 1-(-3), Kit Harris 1-(-5), Team 1-(-6).
F – Landon Zurliene 3-8-40 (1 TD). CWC – Ethan Mahon 5-10-44 (1 TD, 1 Int).
F – Cade Carter 2-31-1, Wyatt Gilbert 1-9. CWC – Jaedon Reeder 2-37-1, Luke Simon 3-7.
Solos-Assists—F—Jonathon Scott 3-3, Ike Downen 3-1, Cade Carter 3-0, Ryan Conrad 2-2, Cameron Gardner 3-0, Cayden Taylor 3-0, Luke Dagg 2-2, Isaac Sork 3-0, Kaleb Wells 2-1, Wyatt Gilbert 2-0, Noah Kunce 1-1, Camden Robbins 1-0, Colin Massie 1-0, Konnor Dagg 1-0, Blake Pruitt 1-0, Lucas Halbert 1-0, Derek Vaughan 1-0, Landon Stewart 1-0, Jaxon Combs 1-0. C—Ethan Mahon 7-4, Eric Mills 7-3, Kit Harris 4-2, Ty Stubblefield 4-2, Bryson Moore 4-2, Luke Simon 4-1, Joseph Mills 4-0, Titus Wood 2-0, Sean Ackerman 1-0, Brody Atteberry 1-0, Gavin Peterson 1-0.
Tackles For Loss—F—Ike Downen 2.5, Cade Carter 2, Ryan Conrad 1, Isaac Sork 1, Colin Massie 1.
Fumble Recoveries—F—Cayden Taylor 1.
Pass Deflections—F—Ryan Conrad 1, Cayden Taylor 1.
The Mules stand alone atop the BDC standings. They still have Hamilton County, Edwards County, Vienna and Eldorado left to play. They have already defeated three of the four teams with a winning record.