HENRIETTA TWP. - It's been 22 years since the Firelands Falcons started a football season
4-0, so it's easy to understand why senior quarterback Kyle Smith never gets tired of talking about the team's success.
On Friday night, in the Falcons' first Patriot Athletic Conference game, Smith and fellow seniors Nick Deichler and Cody Northeim spoke volumes with their play. The Falcons defeated Fairview 27-10 in a PAC crossover game.
"It feels real good to be 4-0," said Smith, who tossed a 33-yard touchdown strike to Northeim and followed with a 45-yard scoring run of his own. "They beat us last year, so we wanted a little payback this year. The line really blocked well tonight, and our defense was amazing. It's just really nice to be 4-0."
Smith hooked up with Northeim to cap a seven-play, 47-yard drive that took 3:08. The key play was a pass interference call with the Falcons facing third-and-8 from the Fairview 45-yard line. Smith threw the pass to the 6-foot-4 Northeim, who was knocked out of bounds by a Warrior defender to draw the flag. Four plays later, Firelands was on the board.
Fairview answered as senior kicker Adrian Bendo drilled a 25-yard field goal to keep the Warriors in the hunt.
But Smith and the Falcons struck again. Needing just three plays to cover 64 yards, and aided by a roughing the passer penalty, Smith faked a handoff to Deichler and sprinted
45 yards up the left side to give Firelands a 13-3 lead by intermission.
"Kyle does a nice job of managing the game," Falcons coach Mike Passerrello said. "We keep running the offense, and he does a great job of managing his plays. It's just a total unit out there.
"We had some big plays on both sides of the ball, and I'm real proud of these guys for not being satisfied with the 3-0 start. They could have been after the big win last week (over rival Vermilion), but they came back out and got another one tonight."
After neither team could find the end zone in a scoreless third quarter, Deichler did his damage in the fourth. Scoring on runs of 7 and 73 yards, he delivered the knockout punch by giving the Falcons a 27-3 lead with 6:56 to play.
"On the touchdown pass, I knew that Cody had his man beat," Smith said of his connection with Northeim. "And as soon as Nick hit that hole (on the 73-yarder), I just threw my arms up. I knew he was gone. We really picked it up on offense in the second half."
Deichler finished the night with 153 yards on 22 carries, while Smith added 106 yards on 14 runs. He also collected 127 yards through the air on 7-of-16 passing.
The big-play offense, along with a stingy defense, was just too much for Fairview to counter.
"We kept battling," Passerrello said. "The coaching staff did a great job of making some adjustments, and the players stepped it up in the second half. They (Fairview) are a good, physical team."
Fairview coach Tom Narducci, who watched his team slip to 0-4, knew it was just one of those nights for his Warriors.
"What could go wrong did go wrong. We just couldn't catch a break," Narducci said. "But you have to give credit to them, they're a good football team. They were much better than us tonight, more physical, and when they needed a big play, they got it.
"We've been a little suspect in our secondary, but I thought our run defense - other than the two big runs they had - did a good job. They just ran so many plays, and that's going to happen, sooner or later. It all took its toll."
Firelands will visit Oberlin next Friday night, looking to improve to 5-0. Fairview will be faced with a tough task that same night, as the Warriors return home to face undefeated Black River.
Contact John McDermott at 329-7135 or email@example.com.