Mules Clinch Fourth Straight BDC Title; Set Consecutive Wins Record

Scoring 26 points in the first quarter, Justin Townsend’s Fairfield Mules won their 27th straight Black Diamond Conference game and clinched their fourth straight BDC title Friday, rolling to a 47-3 win over visiting Edwards County.

The 27th straight regular season win in the closed conference gives the Mules a new league record, eclipsing the previous mark of 26 held by Johnston City. At 7-0, they also became the first team to win four straight conference championships since the BDC expanded in 2003. The record of five straight by Johnston City was set in the early 90s. Of their four titles, and five in seven years, this is the earliest in the season they have clinched.

“Its hard to believe the last time we lost in conference play was 2016,” Townsend said postgame. “I had to check that myself just to believe it.”

“All the success, it goes by quickly. It is on to the next one, and on to the next one, and the next thing you know it is 27 in a row,” he added. “It goes back to the kids, the work they put in and the community support we have.”

“It has been a fun ride, and we will keep this going as long as we can,” he said.

The Mules scored 26 points in the first 10 minutes, 40 seconds of the game, and led 40-0 at halftime, playing the entire second half with a running clock.

They were helped by two early Lions fumbles, while the dominated the line of scrimmage as well with a 425-56 total yardage advantage. The Mules averaged nearly a first down every snap, with 9.0 yards per play, while Edwards County moved the ball at just a 1.6 yards per play clip.

Wyatt Gilbert had 144 total yards and scored three touchdowns, including his second defense score of the game. The Mules ran for 257 yards, while Landon Zurliene threw for 168. He was uber efficient with just eight pass attempts, two for touchdowns.

Edwards County got the ball first, but lost six yards on the first play from scrimmage, setting the tone for the night. After they punted three plays later, the Mules needed just two plays to get on the scoreboard. Cade Carter ran for 11 yards on the first play, and then Gilbert ran for 65 on the very next play for a 6-0 lead.

On the next Lions drive, Colin Massie and Konnor Dagg combined to force a Camden Cowger fumbled on a third-and-17 pass completion, with Kaleb Well recovering the loose ball. On the next play, the Mules took full advantage with Zurliene hitting Carter for a 33-yard touchdown pass and a 12-0 lead.

“We wanted to come out fast,” Townsend noted. “We wanted to relinquish any hope they might have they could play with us for a little bit.”

“They do have some athletes and they can do some things offensively. They are unorthodox, do some unbalanced stuff. You have to prepare.”

Edwards County punted again on their next drive and the Mules scored three plays later on a one-yard run by Wells.  The score was set up by a 61-yard pass play from Zurliene to Gilbert. Gilbert was tackled at the two, with a horse collar penalty moving the ball up a yard.

With two 60-yard offensive plays in the first quarter, Gilbert was not done with the big plays in the opening frame. On Edwards County’s next offensive play, he picked up a Marcus Stennett fumbled and returned the ball 28 yards for a scoop and a score, earning another turnover pie from defensive coordinator Donnie Lyons.

That put Fairfield up 26-0 in the first quarter. In the second, they finally needed more than a couple of plays to score, stringing together a 10-play drive that covered 81 yards. Zurliene had a 15-yard screen pass to fullback Wells on the drive, Blake Pruitt had a 12-yard run and then tight end Luke Dagg had a 36-yard reception for the touchdown and a 34-0 lead.

Fairfield went up by 40 with 2:20 to play in the first half, capping off another 10-play drive with a four-yard scoring run by Gilbert, his third score of the half. That score held until halftime.

The Lions ran just one play in Mule territory in the first half, and that was a punt play on the first drive.

The Mules defense forced a third turnover early in the third quarter when Camden Robbins picked off backup quarterback Hayden Davis. That set up a six-play scoring drive from the Fairfield fellers, with their backups in. Hunter Murphy toted the final two carries on the drive, scoring from four yards out for a 46-0 lead.

Fairfield’s final point of the game came on an extra point kick from Hunter Scarbrough, sending the Fairfield faithful into a frenzy as the senior was finally rewarded for sticking with the team. Scarbrough had unfortunate head injuries as a junior and is only allowed to kick extra points this year. He has stuck with the team, and after the made kick, the kinship from the players, coaches and fans was widely evident.

The only drama left in the game was whether or not the Mules could force another shutout. They have only given up one touchdown this season, and had shutouts in five of their first six games. They did not allow a touchdown Friday to the Lions, but Edwards County did get a late 27-yard field goal from Zeke Roberts to prevent the shutout. The Mules have now allowed 11 points in seven games.

Gilbert finished with 83 rushing yards and Wells had 46. Zurliene completed six passes to six different receivers, the longest being the 61-yarder to Gilbert.

“I am proud of our defense, but I feel like our offense is getting better and better each week. We are getting more explosive.”

Lucas Halbert led the Mules in tackles with four solos, playing specials teams and with the subs late in the game.

Fairfield (7-0) will host winless Vienna Friday for Senior Night, before wrapping up the season at Eldorado in week nine.

“This is where you want to be come week eight, playing your best football heading into the playoffs,” Townsend concluded.

                                       1                2                3                4                 F

Edwards Co. (3-4)      0                0                0                3                 3

Fairfield (7-0)               26             14               7                0                47

SCORING PLAYS

First Quarter

F—Wyatt Gilbert 65-yard run (run failed), 9:14.

F—Cade Carter 33-yard pass from Landon Zurliene (run failed), 5:10.

F—Kaleb Wells 1-yard run (pass failed), 1:30.

F—Wyatt Gilbert 28-yard fumble return (Cayden Taylor pass from Zurliene), 1:20.

Second Quarter

F—Luke Dagg 36-yard pass from Zurliene (Cameron Gardner run), 8:24.

F—Wyatt Gilbert 4-yard run (run failed), 2:20.

Third Quarter

F—Hunter Murphy 4-yard run (Hunter Scarbrough kick), 2:15.

Fourth Quarter

EC—Zeke Roberts 27-yard field goal, 4:15.

F                                                                                    EC

21                                 First downs                              4

39-257                            Rushes                          26-40

6-8-0                          Pass-Att.-Int.                      4-8-1                 

168                             Passing yards                           16

425                            Total Offense                          56

9.0                             Yards Per Play                         1.6

0                                    Punts-Ave                      4-32.8

2-1                              Fumbles-lost                         2-2

1                                    Turnovers                               3

7-60                               Penalties                           4-40

26:34                    Time of Possession               21:26

1/4                   Third Down Conversions            1/10

1/4                  Fourth Down Conversions             0/1

RUSHING

F –Gilbert 6-83-2, Wells 5-46-1, Blaine Milner 2-22, Colin Massie 3-21, Blake Pruitt 5-21, Camden Robbins 2-19, Carter 4-13, Zurliene 1-13, Dylan Best 1-13, Hunter Murphy 2-9, Konnor Dagg 1-6, Lucas Halbert 1-5, Hunter Scott 2-5, Jake Eckleberry 1-3, Gardner 2-0, Team 1-(-22). EC—James Borowiak 5-24, Eli Grimes 3-10, Gus Baker 4-6, Ryan St. Ledger 6-5, Keath Baterman 1-3, Isaiah Pontain 2-(-1), Marcus Stennett 5-(-7).

PASSING

F – Zurliene 6-8-168 (2 TD). EC – Marcus Stennett 4-6-16, Hayden Davis 0-2-0 (1 Int).

RECEIVING

F- Gilbert 1-61, Dagg 1-36, Carter 1-33, Kane Hixenbaugh 1-20, Wells 1-15, Massie 1-3. EC – Grimes 1-15, Cowger 2-6, St. Ledger 1-(-5).

TACKLES (solo-assists)

F – Lucas Halbert 4-0, Wells 3-1, Pruitt 3-1, Massie 2-0, Gardner 2-0, Isaac Stork 2-0, Ike Downen 2-0, Landon Stewart 2-0, Jaxon Combs 2-0, Carter 1-0, Gilbert 1-0, Dagg 1-0, Jonathon Scott 1-0, K. Dagg 1-0, Kaelor McWilliams 1-0, Jonathan Squire 1-0, Murphy 0-1, Ryan Conrad 0-1.  EC—Keath Baterman 4-2, Jordan Brock 3-3, St. Ledger 3-1, Stennett 3-1, Patrick Diley 3-1, Eli Steber 3-0, Borowiak 3-0, Anton Linder 2-1, Cowger 2-0, Kinser Medler 2-0, Pountain 2-0, Bryton Steber 2-0, Dylan Rhodes 1-1, Ed Markman 1-0, Zane Hayes 1-0.

Tackles For Loss (Yards)—F- Pruitt 2.5, Gardner 1, Combs 1, Carter 1, L. Dagg 1, McWilliams 1, Wells .5. EC—Eli Steber 2, Batrman 1.

Interceptions—F—Robbins 1.

Pass DefensesF—Wells 1, McWilliams 1.

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