Seventh-ranked Raceland ended a string of disappointments to archrival Fairview in impressive fashion Friday night.
The Rams dominated the turnover comparison and racked up 21 first downs on the way to a 36-14 pasting of the third-ranked and previously unbeaten Eagles.
Fairview won the three previous meetings with the help of 10 interceptions. This time, Raceland turned the tables by playing a turnover-free game, getting a pick-six and recovering two designed short kickoffs at jam-packed Rams Stadium.
Raceland also foiled Fairview with a versatile offensive attack, rushing for more than 200 yards and scoring twice through the air.
All in all, Raceland coach T.J. Maynard couldn’t have scripted it much better.
“I told the kids I was proud not just how they played, but how they prepared for this,” Maynard said. “They were focused all week. It was great to see them rewarded for their effort.”
After Fairview took a 7-3 lead in the first quarter on Tanner Dolen’s 1-yard run, Raceland reeled off 26 consecutive points. Defensive back Maverick Dixon capped the surge with a 62-yard interception return with 8:05 remaining in the third quarter.
Dixon, a junior, reversed field a couple of times on his way to the end zone.
“We’ve been working hard all week,” said Raceland senior running back Daylin Beach, who ran 11 yards for a TD and later turned a short pass from quarterback Adam Elkins into a 41-yard score. “The big thing was holding onto the ball. Turnovers the last couple of years against Fairview killed us.”
Raceland (6-2) outgained Fairview 330-309 while putting the brakes on Fairview’s 28-game regular season winning streak.
The Rams had extra incentive. They played with No. 12 stickers on the back of their helmets in honor of senior Zack Litteral, who sustained a broken leg last week against Nicholas County.
“Winning tonight means a lot to the team,” said versatile junior Connor Messer. “The seniors have been talking about this game for a while. Everybody played tonight for Zack. The coaches said 12 was for Zack and the 12th man.”
Messer, known for his big-play ability, came through for the Rams again.
In the opening quarter, he ran 12 yards from shotgun formation for Raceland’s first score after faking both a handoff and pitchout. Messer put the game away in the fourth quarter with a perfectly thrown fourth-down pass to Rodney Vance for a 17-yard TD with 10:35 left.
“Connor and Daylin did tonight what they do, make plays,” Maynard said. “Overall, I thought we did a really good job blocking on the line and all the backs ran well.”
Sophomores Kane Snyder and Carson Christian combined for 101 yards on the ground. Messer and Beach each finished with 52 yards rushing.
The Rams set the tone by recovering two of their own kickoffs. Sophomore Matt Preston hit both line drives at an angle and Fairview mishandled them.
“We anticipated them not kicking deep,” said Fairview coach Nathan McPeek, whose team has enjoyed success this season with kickoff and punt returns. “We had a skill guy right there. It (ball) just slipped out. We are a good football team, but not good enough to overcome two of those in one half.”
Fairview (7-1) finished with 258 yards rushing — 150 less than its season average.
“Raceland played better than us,” McPeek said. “They have a lot of good players and we didn’t do a very good job tackling. We’re going to have to clean that up.”
Dolen also scored Fairview’s other TD on a 16-yard run.
ROCKY STANLEY can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2671.