Garrett Baker envisioned himself one day being Fairmont’s quarterback. That changed when he was injured as a freshman. Something else changed, too. He was switched to defensive tackle.
“It was very weird, but it’s worked out really good,” said Garrett, a gifted athlete who could play multiple positions for the Firebirds. “I like it a lot.”
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The guy who would be QB made the greatest impact of his career at the end of Friday’s stunning 25-24 defeat of previously unbeaten Miamisburg in a Week 6 Greater Western Ohio Conference crossover matchup before a capacity crowd.
Baker’s deflection of a Colin Dillon punt deep in Miamisburg’s red zone with about 75 seconds left was recovered by Fairmont senior Jonas Smith. Suddenly, Fairmont was in position at the Miamisburg 21-yard-line to do the improbable. And it did five plays later when senior Jesse Deglow bulled into the end zone with 13 ticks remaining for the winning touchdown.
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That unlikely game-winning sequence made this an instant classic and further stamped Fairmont (5-1) a team of destiny. Three of its wins have come on their last offensive play in the final minute.
“They’re going to remember this the rest of their lives,” Fairmont coach Dave Miller said. “They never quit and I just love it.”
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The improbable win provided Fairmont a major boost in the Division I, Region 3 computer rankings, vaulting the Firebirds ahead of unbeaten Springfield and into second behind defending D-I state champ Pickerington Central (6-0). Miamisburg (5-1) dropped to No. 7 in Region 3.
Deglow led Fairmont with 125 yards rushing and had a 19-yard TD run early in the fourth quarter. Fairmont quarterback Braden Miller added 104 yards rushing and was the first to score with a 43-yard option dash midway through the first quarter.
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Miamisburg senior quarterback Tate Vongsy completed 11 of 15 passes to five receivers for 161 yards. Jackson Myers and Dylan Wudke each had three catches. Jon Yerkins led the Vikings with 93 yards rushing and TD runs of 3 and 8 yards. Zion Lewis added 72 yards rushing.
Dillon’s 21-yard field goal put Miamisburg up 24-13 late in the third quarter. Then Baker, Smith, Deglow and fate intervened for Fairmont.
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“I thought our kids played well enough to win,” Miamisburg coach Steve Channell said. “When you get in a game like that, the smallest mistakes make the difference. In the big picture, we can’t let this deter us. We’re still a very good football team.”
Awaiting Fairmont are other GWOC National East rivals Wayne (4-2), Centerville (0-6) and Springfield (6-0) in Weeks 8-10. If the Firebirds advance to the postseason for the second straight year, there’s always the possibility of a rematch with Miamisburg.
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The Vikings have all three GWOC National West games ahead, including what should decide the division title in Week 10 against Northmont (5-1).
“The thing I’m most proud of is these guys just never quit,” Miller said. “Really, since last year, we’ve seen that. Their attitudes have turned around and they’re starting to believe in each other. The perseverance they show is just awesome.”