For the fifth time in six weeks, Fairfield football shut out their opponent, and in their most dominant fashion yet, as Justin Townsend’s Mules rolled to a 40-0 win at Hamilton County Friday.
The Mules have allowed just eight points total in six games, but they took it to another level Friday. Donnie Lyons’ defense held Hamilton County to 42 total yards, 38 of which came on back-to-back pass completions in the third quarter, after the Mules had already staked out a 40-0 lead and started the running clock. The Foxes had just one more yard than plays ran, and ran the ball for just three yards on 28 tries. Fairfield had a total of 11 tackles for loss from eight different players as they controlled the trenches all night.
Offensively, the Mules were once again balanced, getting a pair of 100-plush rushing yard performances and five touchdowns from five different players.
Set The Tone
Fairfield scored on their first possession of the game, after the defense forced a fourth-and-21 punt on the Foxes’ first. The Mules picked up 62 yards in a 12-play, grinding drive. It was finished off by Cade Carter, who had four scores last week, running in from five yards out. Carter added the two-pointer as well for an 8-0 lead at 4:45 in the first.
The Foxes lost two more yards on their next drive and punted again, but Fairfield did not score on their second drive. They turned it over on the Hamilton County 27, with two short runs and two incompletions stalling the drive out.
Four plays later, however, Hamilton County was punting again. Four plays after that, the Mules scored again. Taking over at midfield, Kaleb Wells ripped a 20-yard run up the gut of the Foxes’ defense, followed by a 10-yard run by Colin Massie and a four-yard run to the one-yard line by backup fullback Cameron Gardner. Townsend dialed up a pass play on second-and-goal from the one and junior quarterback Landon Zurliene hit tight end Luke Dagg on a quick-hitter for the second score. Wells ran in the two-pointer for a 16-0 lead at 10:29 in the second.
The Foxes picked up their first first down of the game on their next drive, converting a fourth-and-1 with a seven-yard run by Garrett Webb, but they did not pick up another and punted once again.
The Mules were unable to capitalize on their next two drives however, fumbling twice. Wyatt Gilbert fumbled the ball after an 11-yard run, trying to weave through traffic. Zurliene had the second one, never getting a clean handoff to a running back as the Foxes’ Braxton Ragan burst into the backfield.
Interception Sets Up Score
The second fumble came with 1:15 left in the half, and it looked like the Mules would have to settle for a 16-0 lead at the most at halftime. The defense delivered again, however, with Massie picking off Grady Lueke on second down. Fairfield quickly covered 44 yards in seven plays, with double-digit gains on an 11-yard run by Gilbert, an 18-yard completion to Gilbert and a 14-yard run by Wells. Wells took it in from the one and Zurliene scored the two-pointer for a 24-0 lead.
The defense picked off Lueke one more time before halftime, with Cayden Taylor intercepting him and getting tackled at the Foxes’ 39 at the clock ran out.
The Mules’ lone punt of the game came on the opening drive of the second half, but a third interception of Lueke set up another score. Sophomore Camden Robbins had the pick and gave Lueke three interceptions in four attempts.
Four plays later, Gilbert burst loose for a 50-yard touchdown run and a 32-0 lead at 7:45 in the third.
A bad snap on first down led to the Foxes turning it over on downs in their own territory on their next drive. The Mules took advantage of scored nearly four-minutes later with an eight-play drive covering 41 yards. They converted two third-downs on the drive, the second of which was a five-yard scoring run by Zurliene on an option keep. Carter ran in the two-pointer for the ever-important 39th and 40th points of the game, starting the running clock with 2:44 to go in the third quarter.
Hamilton County’s only offensive success of the night came on the next drive, as they strung together a 10-play drive before turning it over on downs with an incompletion on a fourth-and-19 play. That came after the two pass completions that accounted for 90 percent of their total yardage for the game.
Fairfield was able to run out the clock with a 13-play drive from their sophomore subs, kneeling at the Foxes’ six to end the game.
Two Hit Century Mark
Gilbert finished with 147 rushing yards on just 12 carries, adding 18 more yards on a catch. Wells eclipsed the 100-yard mark as well, with 127 yards and a score on 16 carries.
Zurliene finished 7-of-14 in the air for 73 yards, throwing one touchdown and running for a another. Carter led the receivers with 29 yards on two catches. Zurliene completed passes to five different receivers.
Defensively, Gardner had five total tackles from the middle linebacker spot, while defensive tackle Ike Downen had a second straight big game up front. Downen had five tackles as well, including 3.5 for loss.
Fairfield improved to 6-0 on the year. With a win next week at home against Edwards County, they can clinch their fourth straight BDC conference championship. Every other team in the league has two losses, after Johnston City upset Sesser-Valier this week.