As if the 38-6 final score wasn’t enough of an indicator, here’s a brief synopsis of Clermont Northeastern’s night against the Fayetteville Rockets Friday.
Late in the fourth quarter, CNE regained possesion of the ball after a Fayetteville touchdown. The Rockets lined up for their first play of the drive and promptly fumbled the snap. Next play, same result, a second fumbled snap.
On the third play of the drive, the Rockets managed to secure the snap and hand the ball off to their running back. He fumbled it in the backfield and the drive ended in a punt.
It was that kind of night for CNE as Fayetteville ran the ball all over them on their way to a 32-point victory on the road.
Fayetteville got the scoring started on their first drive of the game. A solid kick return set them up at their own 40 yard line and the team took advantage of that field position quickly. Eli Wolfer scored from five yards out to give the Rockets the lead. The team failed to convert the two-point conversion.
After a CNE punt, Fayetteville scored again. This time, senior Caleb Dowers punched the ball in from two yards out for the score. Again, the Rockets failed to convert the two-point try.
The teams would trade punts and turnovers until just under five minutes left in the first half. Fayetteville struck again for six, this time thanks to a short touchdown run by senior Timmy Crone.
On the ensuing CNE drive, the team finally managed to enter the scoring column thanks to a 31-yard touchdown pass from junior Shawn Lykins to fellow junior Trevor Braun. Fayetteville head coach Kevin Finch took a timeout to plead his case that Braun stepped out of bounds, but the referees said he was shoved out by a defender and the play stood. CNE tried for two, but the pass fell incomplete
Crone struck back for Fayetteville, returning the ensuing kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown and hurdling over Lykins in the process.
The Rockets scored two more touchdowns in the second half, one by Chase Jester and another by Dowers.
In the end, Dowers would finish with 127 yards and a pair of scores on just 18 carries. Cole Schaefer would add 43 yards on 11 carries of his own in addition to 41 yards passing on six attempts. Crone would be responsible for all 41 of the Rockets’ passing yards in addition to 24 rushing yards on five attempts.
The passing stats may not leap out off the page, but Finch said his team is balanced and can do whatever it needs to on offense.
“We can grind it out with our big offensive lineman in the front,” Finch said. “We have two very good quarterbacks, we have some great receivers on the outside and we also have some running backs that can run the ball with. We can do whatever type of game we need to. We can spread it out, throw it if we need to and we can also run when we have the lead with some of those nice long drives.”
Defensively, Fayetteville pressured CNE all game long. The team tallied two sacks, two forced fumbles and Crone added an interception to his lengthy stat sheet. Finch complemented his defense on their performance.
“Our defensive line is really doing a nice job at getting pressure on them on every level,” Finch said. “We have good speed at linebacker and our defensive backs are doing a nice job keeping things in front of them.”
Finch also noted he was wondering how his team would respond if CNE grabbed momentum, and he liked what he saw.
“That was what I was thinking would be the key in pregame,” Finch said. “I knew there was going to be something they would have success with and the key was how would we respond. Crone, a great senior leader, took that kick all the way back and that’s how we responded. That’s a great job of a senior stepping up and saying we’re going to win this game.”
“[Crone] can do everything, and we didn’t show everything he can do,” Finch said. “He brings a different look on offense and when [Schaefer’s] at quarterback he does a great job of managing. They both have their own strengths and they’re team players and that’s one of the reasons we won this game, we had a bunch of team players working together.”
Fayetteville opens up their home slate of games on Friday, Sept. 4 against Bethel-Tate at 7 p.m.