I know it’s really late for me to do this, but I’ve been working on deadline writing the game story for Saturday’s Columbia Tribune. For those who can’t wait until Wednesday to read about tonight’s Fayette-Hallsville game, check out the morning newspaper. However, 75 percent of the story will be about Hallsville, so you won’t get too much insight. Just a little tease.
Alright, so for you night-owl readers — or, in five hours, you early morning go-getters — I’ll talk to you about tonight’s game. For those who aren’t familiar with my football recaps, I generally point out things here and there that I saw tonight and offer my opinion about the game, something you won’t find in the newspaper. Are you ready? Here we go.
I’m going to be honest and up front with you. The final score turned out to be close to what I thought it might be. Oh, it’s not because I don’t think Fayette is very good. It’s just that I have heard so many great things about Hallsville this preseason — how they’re going to be even better than last year — that I figured it was going to be another lopsided score, much like last year.
What I didn’t expect was for Fayette’s defense to come out in the first half and play phenomenally. I’m going back through the stats my older brother kept for me tonight, and only one time did the Falcons allow a Hallsville play of 10-plus yards in the first half. They held the Indians to 58 total yards in the first half.
Before I get ahead of myself, I’m going to break this down into subsets. Let’s continue with the defense.
Fayette’s defense did a pretty darn good job to hold Hallsville to seven points in the first half. Hallsville scored a touchdown with seven seconds left in the first half; otherwise, the game would’ve been knotted at 0-0 going into the locker room. Seriously, could anybody have seen that coming? I’ll be the first to admit that I wouldn’t have.
Hallsville received the ball to start the second half, and I thought how Fayette’s defense responded during that particular drive would dictate the tempo for the rest of the game. I got my hopes up when Fayette forced Hallsville into a turnover on downs inside its own 15-yard line. But my hopes didn’t stay up for long.
Hallsville forced a Fayette safety on the next play from scrimmage after a false start, then proceeded to score on its next three offensive possessions to blow the game open. Once Fayette fell behind, rarely did we see a repeat of anything defensively from the first half. It’s a shame, too. Fayette’s defense in the first half is the best I’ve seen from the Falcons since last year’s Cole Camp game.
In the end, Hallsville finished just under 300 yards of total offense. All in all, that number isn’t bad, but remember, about 250 of those yards came in the second half alone. If Fayette struggles to repeat its first-half performance against this season, the Falcons need to find a middle ground between 50 and 250 yards allowed per half, preferably on the lower end.
I was pretty excited to see the pistol offense tonight, especially after the success the team had last week in the jamboree. And on the first play from scrimmage, when Collin O’Connell ran a quarterback draw to the right for 49 yards, I got to thinking, “Hey, Fayette’s really got something here.”
I think we’re going to see some great things with this new offense in 2013, but it hit a few hiccups tonight. Fayette won’t see but a few teams like Hallsville this year, a team that is huge and has depth. We’ll see the pistol go over well at least a few times this year, probably as early as next week against North Shelby.
Chance Goff also had a 41-yard run on a lateral as a wing in the first half, so those two plays alone gave Fayette 90 yards offensively. However, of the 17 running plays in the first half, only five were for positive yards. That’s a glimpse of last year’s offense that Fayette wants to push out of the door and move forward. Bottom line, I’m not sure a game like tonight’s against Hallsville is a true test of how well the pistol will work this season, and again, one game alone isn’t going to tell the whole story. My thoughts are that the new offense is going to be like novocaine: Just give it time, always works. (Yes, I stole that quote from Remember the Titans)
The other problem was that O’Connell wasn’t quite playing at 100 percent tonight. Granted, even at 80 percent, he’s better than most football players in Mid-Missouri, but as the game wore along, he wore down as well. In addition to battling a sprained knee he suffered last week at the jamboree, O’Connell also had cramps off and on tonight, which isn’t uncommon, considering this hot and humid weather. When he’s at full health, like the jamboree series against Harrisburg, I think this pistol offense will take off. But Fayette really needs O’Connell on board at 100 percent for this offense to work. Hopefully he’s back to 100 percent as early as next week.
Normally, I don’t favor pointing to penalties as a game-changer, but tonight’s going to be an exception. No, it doesn’t have to do with bad calls by refs, but I have seen a few games where that has been the case. Just not tonight.
Fayette had a grand total of 12 penalties tonight. Yeah, that’s pretty high. Eight of them came in the first half, and each penalty was either offsides when they were on defense or a false start when they were on offense. Not once was Fayette called for holding. Gold stars all around for the offensive linemen.
Now, I can hear you already asking, “Wait, how would these five-yard penalties hurt Fayette that much, especially when it didn’t make much of a difference in the score during the first half?” I’m going to argue strongly that if Fayette didn’t even have half of those first-half penalties, the game would have been scoreless at halftime.
Let’s go back to Hallsville’s last offensive series of the second quarter. The drive took five minutes and was 14 plays, but it shouldn’t have been that long. Fayette had Hallsville at 4th-and-3 from the Fayette 24, ready to stop the Indians yet again. However, an offsides penalty moved the chains for a first down, extended the drive, and later led to the touchdown. I’m not saying that penalty cost Fayette seven points, but man, I’d like to go back to that 4th-and-3 play and see what could’ve happened, yet we’ll never know.
There was at least one other offsides penalty that led to a Hallsville first down in the first half. I’m sure it all has something to with it being the first game, and honestly, the number of penalties will likely drop big game for next week.
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I saw lots of things tonight, both good and bad. I saw some great things that make me believe there’s a chance Fayette could do as well as 4-5 in the regular season. Then again, there were some not-so-great things that fit the profile of a 2-7 season, much like last year. But there was more promise than usual for a season opener. Even though Fayette went through three quarterbacks tonight, just like in 2010, it wasn’t because of injury. I don’t think I have to remind fans that it could be worse.
Well, that’s enough about tonight’s game. As usual, let’s take a look around the Lewis & Clark Conference and Class 1 District 6 action tonight.
Lewis & Clark Conference games
- Hallsville 42, Fayette 12
- Westran 48, North Shelby 0 (North Shelby is Fayette’s opponent next week)
- Salisbury 35, Scotland County 6
- Marceline 41, Knox County 12 (Knox County is Fayette’s opponent in two weeks)
- Paris 26, Schuyler County 16
- Santa Fe 78, Slater 63 (I swear on my unborn children, I’m not making up this score)
Class 1 District 6 games
- Milan 34, Princeton 7
- Putnam County 22, Albany 8
- Braymer did not play this week
And although the standings are fairly pointless after just one week, for those who care to know, here are the Class 1 District 6 standings.
- Marceline: (1-0) 33 pts.
- Milan: (1-0) 33 pts.
- Putnam County: (1-0) 33 pts.
- Salisbury: (1-0) 33 pts.
- Fayette: (0-1) 7 pts.
- Princeton: (0-1) 0 pts.
- Slater: (0-1) 0 pts.
- Braymer: (0-0) 0 pts.
Technically, it should be a four-way tie for first place. The top four teams all won tonight, against Class 1 opponents, by 13-plus points. It’s also a three-way tie for sixth place, with Princeton and Slater losing to a Class 1 opponent by 13-plus points, while Braymer has yet to play. The reason Fayette is alone in the middle at fifth place is because, although the Falcons lost by 13-plus points like the other teams seeded below them, Hallsville is a Class 2 school, so Fayette gets bonus points for playing up in level of competition (based on enrollment).
Well, it’s already pushing 2 a.m., and I have to cover a cross country meet at 9 a.m. Instead of trying to figure out the math, I think I’m going to hit the hay. Until next time…