Class A No. 2 Fayetteville was challenged early but responded.
The Pirates found themselves trailing Fayette County foe Meadow Bridge 16-3 in the second quarter before rallying for a 38-16 conquest of the Wildcats Thursday on Frank Spangler Jr. Field at Fletcher M. Arritt Stadium.
Jordan Dempsey rushed for 180 yards and four touchdowns on 13 carries for the Pirates' offense (4-0). The senior scored on runs covering 32, 55, 5 and 19 yards. Teammate Logan Frantz accumulated 121 yards on 10 carries, including a 34-yard TD jaunt. WonYoung Hwang contributed a 27-yard field goal and three successful PAT kicks, and Kris Wilson caught a conversion pass from Frantz.
For the Wildcats, Caleb Richmond carried 43 times for 183 yards. He scored on a pair of 2-yard runs. Lukas Stephens added 37 yards on the ground and ran in a pair of two-point conversions.
"The first half looking at our defense (on film Friday), we're not getting our gaps (filled correctly)," said Fayetteville head coach David Moneypenny. "We've got two or three people outside the ball.
"Meadow Bridge is smart; they hit the open gap. ...Give Coach (Dwayne) Reichard and his staff a lot of credit."
Fortunately for the Pirates, a two-TD deficit, while causing consternation, wasn't insurmountable. The Pirates took advantage of a shanked punt by Meadow Bridge which eventually led to the first Pirate six-pointer, Dempsey's 32-yarder, then a Meadow Bridge fumble preceded Frantz's 34-yard score and the PAT kick by WonYoung Hwang for a 17-16 FHS lead late in the first half.
Moneypenny said the shanked punt came at the end of a drive in which the Pirates did something they hadn't done so far against the Wildcats' offense. "The first thing is that we stopped them" and created a "second-and-long" situation from which Meadow Bridge couldn't recover. The punt gave Fayetteville a short field en route to the first TD, then on the ensuing Meadow Bridge fumble, Fayetteville took over inside Wildcat territory and "we just happened to start blocking," Moneypenny said.
"Early on, we were able to control the line of scrimmage and moved the ball real well against them," Reichard said of his squad's early success. After the punt, "it seemed like mentally we lost our focus. We gave up a quick score, then we fumbled. The next thing you know, it's 17-16.
"We're still in the thick of things, though."
Reichard said Fayetteville's depth as the game progressed proved to be a big obstacle for the 'Cats. "We ran out of gas. Their depth definitely helped them."
"We're not where we want to be obviously," Moneypenny said. "The big trend for us has been to start slow and let the other guys hang around. I'm not sure how to fix it yet.
"The good news is we played pretty decent in the second half."
Meadow Bridge (1-3) is open next week before hosting Valley on Sept. 28.
Next Friday, Fayetteville travels to tangle with defending Class A champ Wheeling Central Catholic.
• • •
Also Thursday, undefeated Class AA co-No. 11 Oak Hill held off a 48-47 overtime challenge from Wyoming East to remain perfect at 4-0, and Valley stayed winless with a 33-6 loss at Class AA co-No. 11 Clay County.
MB (1-3): 8 8 0 0 — 16
F (4-0): 3 14 13 8 — 38
MB: Caleb Richmond 2 run (Lukas Stephens rush)
F: WonYoung Hwang 27 FG
MB: Richmond 2 run (Stephens rush)
F: Jordan Dempsey 32 run (Hwang kick)
F: Logan Frantz 34 run (Hwang kick)
F: Dempsey 55 run (Hwang kick)
F: Dempsey 5 run (rush failed)
F: Dempsey 19 run (Frantz to Kris Wilson)
RUSHING — MB: Caleb Richmond 43-183, Lukas Stephens 6-37, White 11-28. F: Jordan Dempsey 13-180, Logan Frantz 10-121, Eli Sedlock 5-22, Kris Wilson 3-12.
PASSING — MB: Stephens 1-1-1-0; F: Frantz 0-2-0
RECEIVING — MB: White 1-1.
(Box score courtesy of The Register-Herald)