Rockets fly past unbeaten MVCA Lions

As rain poured throughout the area last Friday night, the loud sounds you heard weren’t the rumbles of thunder. It was a Rocket taking flight.

Fayetteville traveled to Turpin High School for a league matchup against the unbeaten Miami Valley Christian Academy Lions, and what many expected to be a close game was anything but.

Caleb Dowers went nuclear for the Rockets, rushing for five touchdowns and over 300 yards on just 15 carries.

He got the scoring started early in the game, after the team’s defense forced the Lions to punt. Fayetteville marched down the field and struck for a five-yard touchdown run by Caleb Dowers.

MVCA drove down the field on their next possession, winding up inside the 10 yard-line. Fayetteville’s defense stood strong, forcing a turnover on downs. Dowers then struck again for Fayetteville, sprinting 75 yards for the team’s second touchdown of the game.

After yet another MVCA drive into the red zone came away empty thanks to the Rockets’ defense, Fayetteville marched back down the field and scored again. Timmy Crone kept the ball himself, diving in from the two yard-line and extending the Fayetteville lead to 20-0. A high snap on the extra point ended with Crone scrambling toward the end zone, but he came up short.

The Lions finally converted in the red zone on their next possession. Brandon Conklin hauled in a pass from Bransen Vilardo for the Lions, who converted the extra point with less than a minute remaining in the half.

The Rockets got the ball back at their own 40 yard line and handed the ball off to Dowers, who promptly went 59 yards to put Fayetteville in scoring position again. Dowers was rewarded for his effort, scoring his third touchdown of the half as well as the ensuing two-point conversion on a pass from Crone, putting the Rockets up 28-7.

Rockets head coach Kevin Finch said it was huge for his team to answer MVCA’s scoring drive with points of their own just before the half.

“That was huge, and that goes to the character of our players,” Finch said. “They’ll never quit and the respond to difficult situations like that. I think that says a lot about the team chemistry and the closeness of each other. It’s enjoyable to watch.”

Dowers struck for two more touchdowns in the third quarter, extending his team’s lead to 40-7. Eli Wolfer scored with 9:25 remaining in the game for the Rockets, who missed the two-point conversion. Fayetteville handed the Lions their first loss of the season by a 46-14 score.

Fayetteville’s run game accounted for 502 of the team’s 505 total yards, a fact Finch said is a credit to his team’s offensive line. Juniors Tay Call, Ryan Shaw, Andy Smith and Garhett Thompson team up with sophomore Tay Call to open holes for the Rocket running backs, but they don’t often get recognized for their work.

“Our kids have been getting better and better each week,” Finch said. “I want to give props to our offensive line because they’ve been making some huge holes in front of our very good running backs. Those guys are hard-working lineman, they’re not out for recognition, they just do a great job blocking.”

Dowers was not in the top 50 rushers in the tri-state area heading into the game Friday night, but his 312 yard effort propelled him to 14th.

Finch said Dowers was able to make plays happen just with his field vision, which he did on the 59-yard run just before the half. He started out running toward the right side of the team’s offensive line before reversing direction 15-20 yards downfield to gain more yardage.

“He was seeing the holes,” Finch said. “The line was making nice holes and he was finding them with his vision. There were times he turned what would have been an average gain into a big gain just with his vision”

Teammate Eli Wolfer tallied 118 and a touchdown on 16 attempts. He also forced MVCA’s only turnover of the game with his second-quarter interception. Crone carried the ball just three times for four yards, but one of those three rushing attempts resulted in a touchdown.

Cole Schafer did not have much to do for the Rockets under center, other than executing his handoffs and reads. He did not record a pass attempt, although he did carry the ball five times for 49 yards. Finch said the lack of passing attempts was a part of the team’s plan for the game.

“Cole is a team player, he’ll do whatever he needs [to do],” Finch said. “He doesn’t care what it takes, he’d probably play the line for us if it meant winning the game. The wind was blowing and it was raining and I thought we could control the line of scrimmage. That was our game plan going in.”

Seth Henderson rushed for 101 yards and MVCA’s final touchdown on 14 carries. Conklin caught four total passes for 72 yards and the team’s other touchdown.

The Rockets hit the road again next week, travelling to Manchester to take on the Greyhounds. Finch said his team’s week of practice will be crucial to their success.

“The two schools have always had a nice little rivalry because both schools started football at the same time,” Finch said. “We’re going to have to have a great week of practice.”

Miami Valley Christian Academy’s Bransen Vilardo attempts a swing pass to junior Brandon Thompson in the first half last Friday night. Thompson would drop the pass. Valley Christian Academy’s Bransen Vilardo attempts a swing pass to junior Brandon Thompson in the first half last Friday night. Thompson would drop the pass.
Fayetteville picks up huge OVC victory

By Garth Shanklin

Reach Garth Shanklin at 937-378-6161 or