MILLERSPORT — For their final game of the season, the Miller Falcons took a fourth-quarter rally victory, 42-30, over the Fairfield Christian Academy Knights on Nov. 1.
Miller had their smart tactics that eventually gave them the win over the Knights, all starting in the first play series of the game.
After Miller kicked off an onside kick to gain possession, they continued their series of plays for six minutes, moving them from the 41-yard line, to the 10.
When the Falcons were fourth-and-five, head coach Sean Bartley used a tactic that threw off the Knights.
The Falcons faked to get a false start against Fairfield Christian to give themselves the needed yards for an easy first down.
But, when Miller reached fourth-and-two, Fairfield Christian got possession on a forced punt when the Falcons were not able to gain the needed distance.
Fairfield Christian’s possession was short, but beneficial to Miller as Trevor Hoffman recovered a Knights’ fumble in their backfield, which turned out to also be Miller’s end zone, giving the Falcons a touchdown and extra point by Lucas Dishon to take the 7-0 lead with 2:15 left in the first quarter.
Miller maintained a strong defense to hold the Knights scoreless from their red zone in the first quarter, but with 9:22 on the clock in the second quarter, the Knights found one touchdown, but failed with their PAT.
After the kick return for Miller possession, Colby Bartley began a strong play with a shot to Gage Spencer to gain 35 yards.
Miller took baby steps in their next few plays before they had to gain some distance on third-and-11.
Bartley shot another pass to Kylan McClain to pick up 13 yards and a first down. From there, on the 19-yard line, Bartley carried to rush four yards, then handed off to Dishon the next play to gain three more.
On third-and-three, Bartley carried the ball from the 12-yard line, across the goal line and into the end zone at 6:57 left in the half.
Dishon’s PAT was good and the Falcons were up 14-6.
Miller’s defense only allowed Fairfield Christian to have possession for two minutes before Miller gained it back and 49 yards in their series.
Bartley led his offense all the way to the four-yard line and had Spencer wide open in the back right corner, but Trey McCoy jumped in front, unknowingly blocking Bartley’s intended receiver.
At the half, Miller led the Knights, 14-6.
At the start of the second half, Miller’s series was not productive as Bartley got sacked on fourth-and-one to give possession to the Knights.
With their possession, Fairfield Christian took it to the end zone, and then pulled a two-point conversion with a dart over the middle to a wide-open receiver and tie up the score, 14 all, with 8:57 on the clock.
Miller gained possession on the kick return, and from the 37-yard line on first-and-10, Bartley connected with Spencer for a touchdown pass.
Dishon did not fail his Falcons with the extra point, and Miller was up 21-14 with 8:48 on the clock.
At this point, the scoring was back-and-forth as the Knights got the kick return and score at 7:29 with a good PAT, 21 all.
After Miller fumbled their answering play, the Knights took it to the house in their series, 27-21, and Miller was down for the first time all game.
The Falcons took some bad luck in their kick-returned series with multiple flags thrown in five minutes, all against both Miller and Fairfield Christian.
The third quarter ended on Miller having a holding flag thrown at them. The final quarter started with a flag thrown at the Knights for a face mask.
That flag gave Miller the yards they needed to get first and 10, and Bartley rushed from the five-yard line to the end zone.
Dishon’s PAT was blocked, so the score was tied at 27-27 with 11:43 left of play.
Miller’s defense held the Knights to barely any yards and forced a 15-yard field goal, which was successful to give the Knights a 30-27 lead at six minutes left.
Again, back-and-forth with Miller as Bartley carried six of seven plays of their series and gained 46 yards to the one-yard line.
Bartley rushed that one yard in, then the Falcons pulled a two-point to take the 35-30 lead with three minutes left of play.
Fairfield Christian was trying to gain some momentum to take advantage of their two minutes, but Miller’s defense proved to be stronger and held them to no more than the 30-yard line.
In their final attempt to score, the Knights tossed a pitch and Dalton Hartberger took it all the way downfield to the end zone to end his final game as the victor, 42-30 after a good PAT from Dishon.
Head coach Bartley said Hartberger’s play was in a critical moment of the game.
“Hartberger has not scored his whole career and he got that play right there in one of the most critical moments in the game,” he said.
The Falcons finished their season 4-6, getting some wins, despite the injuries they’ve had.
Head coach Bartley said it was not a bad season considering all the injuries, including Blayton Cox sitting out the season on injury.
“The boys never quit,” he mentioned.
“The seniors have led us and really made a statement as a class; you never count us out.”