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The Firebirds’ second-year head coach said his team could have three losses had it not been for its ability to perform with its backs against the wall.
Trailing 24-14 at the beginning of the second half, Miller’s team did what it’s done all season: Thrive.
The Firebirds punched the Panthers with the kind of up-the-gut, power football that would make Vince Lombardi proud.
“Words cannot describe it. It was a gut check,” Miller said. “They came after us, fought their butts off and it was one of those great high school football games…we got it done, credit to our kids.”
To open the third stanza, Miller turned the channel to the Jesse Deglow Show, and ratings were big—as in a 14-point swing big.
The Firebirds moved the ball with a steady dose of Deglow, who eventually raced for a 43-yard touchdown.
Miller called for an onside kick on the ensuing kickoff, and the Firebirds recovered.
“We talked about it all week, how the kickoff game would be a tough one to handle and we didn’t wait to make sure it was kicked, so they got a short field and turned that one into a touchdown,” Springboro coach Ryan Wilhite said.
Fairmont continued to flex it’s rushing muscle, and Deglow rewarded his coaches faith, running for a 23-yard score, which put Fairmont ahead for the first time, 28-24.
“I can’t thank my O-line enough. I owe them…that’s how I succeed,” Deglow said. “When I saw that hole I knew it was over.”
The 5-10, 185-pound fullback rushed for 168 yards on 27 carries and scored four touchdowns.
Springboro immediately answered back with a three-minute touchdown drive, culminating in a 1-yard Payton Standifer touchdown run.
Springboro quarterback Cameron Rountree set up the score by connecting with receiver Kris Hughes, who caught seven balls for 75 yards.
Rountree plagued the Firebirds all night, completing 10 of 18 passes for 143 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 102 yards on 14 carries.
“I watched him on film. He’s unbelievable,” Miller said. “ We knew we were in trouble with him and their offensive line did a good job. It was a great high school game and it’s a shame for someone to lose.”
Rountree also got some much needed help from his ground game, which produced 106 yards, led by Standifer’s 89 yards on 17 attempts. Hughes had just one attempt, but he made it count, going 17 yards to give Springboro back the lead with 5:58 to go in the game.
While Rountree had the numbers, Braden Miller had the most memorable throw.
He only had two pass attempts, but the junior let it ride with just over three minutes remaining, hooking up with Ryan Hall on a beautifully thrown 68-yard deep ball to put the Firebirds up for good.
Rountree appeared poised to lead a comeback, and completed a pass to Hughes near the Fairmont 30-yard line, but the ball popped out and the Firebirds recovered.