Wayne’s Devin Nelson is unlike most recent Warriors running backs. Coach Jay Minton labels the junior a “finesse” runner. Fairmont assassin works, too.
“We came out with a victory and that’s all that matters,” declared Nelson after scoring five touchdowns in a 49-44 comeback defeat of visiting Fairmont on Friday night. “It means we’re coming together and we’re gelling.”
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Fairmont’s Jesse Deglow matched Nelson with five touchdown runs, but the Warriors bunched three TDs in the final quarter to win the Week 8 high school football Greater Western Ohio Conference National East shootout.
The contest could be a postseason preview. Wayne (6-2) unofficially bumped up three places to No. 8 in the Division I, Region 3 computer rankings. Fairmont (6-2) fell from No. 2 to sixth.
The abundant scoring defied reason. Rain fell throughout, which should have handicapped the offenses and both teams were thought to have shut-down defenses. Best to rethink all that.
The combined offensive fireworks were remarkable: 93 points, 973 yards offense, 50 first downs, 92 rushes and just 31 passes.
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Leading 20-0 early in the second quarter, Wayne appeared to be mounting a rout. Instead, Deglow went on a second-quarter run that will go down in Firebirds program history.
“We wanted to get up two or three (touchdowns) on these guys, but it bit us in the butt,” said Minton.
Deglow, a senior running back, tallied four consecutive second-quarter touchdowns on runs of 73, 71, 8 and 8 yards and had 198 yards rushing at halftime, most all of that in the second quarter. His fifth straight TD early in the third quarter pushed Fairmont’s run to 35 consecutive points and a 35-20 lead.
And then Nelson countered.
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Already having scored twice in the first half, Nelson went for three more TD runs in the second half. His 13-yarder midway through the fourth quarter enabled Wayne to regain the lead at 42-38. He added another 6-yarder with 2:47 left, which proved to be the winning score. That’s because Fairmont answered with Ryan Hall’s 20-yard TD catch from Braden Miller just 39 seconds later.
Fairmont finally forced Wayne to punt on the return possession, then drove from its 5 to midfield in the final minute. However, Miller couldn’t secure a direct snap with about 20 seconds left, Wayne’s Alijah Fleming pounced on the third fumble Fairmont gave up in the second half and a spirited Warriors sideline celebration was on.
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“It was a great high school football game, no question,” Fairmont coach Dave Miller said. “To their credit, they come out ready to go and took it to us. One thing that’s been a big thing about this team is they don’t quit.”
Wayne quarterback Rashad McKee completed 20 of 24 passes for 226 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. He also rushed for 93 yards. Nelson added 98 yards rushing and those five scores.
Deglow had a career-high 278 yards rushing on 26 carries and five scores. Fairmont’s Aaron Jackson added 117 yards rushing on just five carries.
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Reshuffling in D-I, Region 3 will be constant through Week 10, but both these teams could play again. Wayne is at Springfield (7-1) in Week 9 and hosts Trotwood-Madison (6-2) in Week 10. A sweep should ensure a home playoff game for the Warriors and a split should still warrant a spot in the top eight.
Fairmont hosts rival Centerville (0-8) in Week 9 and is at Springfield in Week 10. Last season Fairmont beat Springfield in the regular-season finale to earn a D-I, Region 3 playoff spot and knock the Wildcats out of the postseason.
“All we can do is get better and learn from what happened and move on,” said Miller.
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