It was a game for the ages and for Fairfield, one to remember. However for the Florence Falcons, it was a bittersweet loss. The two teams met in the Class B semi finals football game on Saturday in Fairfield. The sky was clear but the wind, as always, was blowing.
Aside from an early touchdown in the first quarter by Fairfield which was called back on a penalty, the game was scoreless for 48 minutes. Florence had a chance to score on a field goal late in the third quarter but the kick went wide.
“I kind of think they (Fairfield) got a hand on it,” said Florence coach Pat Duchien.
It wasn’t until overtime that a player crossed into the end zone. Fairfield won the coin toss and opted to take the ball first. In overtime periods, the ball is placed on the 10 yard line and the team has four downs to get to the end zone and the score. Throughout the fourth quarter, Fairfield had changed up their offense by handing the ball to Miguel Perez who found a few holes in the Florence defense. Although he didn’t get to the end zone, he did make into the red zone at one point in the fourth quarter but that play was called back on a holding penalty.
In overtime, Perez got the call on each play. He pushed through for 4 yards on the first carry, four yards on the second carry, and then two yards for the touchdown. Fairfield’s quarterback, Guidry Giles, made a short pass to Daniel Faith for the two point conversion.
But then it was Florence’s turn. The Falcons took over on the 10 yard line. On their first possession, they switched things up with a direct snap to wide receiver Blake Shoup who then threw to quarterback Pat Duchien, Jr., for the six points. However, the two point conversion failed when DuchienJr., a pass to the end zone that was picked off by Perez. Fairfield won, 8-6.
“This loss starts and stops with me, no ifs, ands, or buts,” said Coach Duchien. “The defense did what they had to do and had it dials in. I would have told you if we could get three turnovers in the game, we would win it.”
Coach Duchien said he felt like he should have had a better plan and been more aware of the adjustments that we needed to make. “We want away from what worked last week against Townsend.”
In that game, Florence took advantage of the three man front line and rushed the ball more. This game, they went to the air quite a bit, relying upon Duchien Jr.’s strong arm. Although the Falcons did have some success and looked at one point like they were going to have a strong drive to score, either a penalty or a pick off stopped their progress.
“We failed as a staff and that starts with me,” said Coach Duchien. “We should have had a better plan and been more aware of some of the adjustments that we needed to make.”
Florence actually had more offensive yards than Fairfield did, although neither team had many. Florence had 74 yards in the first quarter, and 127 in the second half. But they didn’t get within the 15 yard line at any time during regulation play.
Florence’s defense kept Fairfield out of the red zone and off their plan much of the game. Coach Duchien had high praise for his defense. He said that he couldn’t just single one player out, “it would be unjust to the other kids.”
Coach Duchien concluded with “you don’t get too many 0-0 games with two high powered offenses. Our defenses came in ready to go.”
Florence finished the season with only two losses, to Fairfield and to Manhattan. Those two will meet this Saturday in the championship game in Fairfield.