Fairmont needed the victory. Springfield wanted the victory.
That might have been the difference on a cold, wet Friday as the Firebirds claimed a 14-7 victory in week 10 at Evans Stadium, clinching a playoff berth in Division I, Region III and a rematch with Springfield in the first round of the playoffs.
“They had a little more sense of desperation, played with a little more fire,” Springfield coach Maurice Douglass said. “That’s what you get. They got in. They needed it.”
Fairmont (7-3, 2-2) had to win to keep its season alive. Springfield (8-2, 3-1) clinched a postseason berth in week nine with a 33-26 overtime victory over Wayne at Evans Stadium.
According to the unofficial pairings on JoeEitel.com, the Wildcats earned the No. 4 seed in Division I, Region 3, and the Firebirds secured the No. 5 seed. They’ll meet again at Evans Stadium at 7 p.m. Nov. 2. The official pairings will be announced by the OHSAA on Sunday.
While Springfield earned its second playoff berth in three years and fourth since the new high school opened in 2008, Fairmont made school history with its second straight playoff berth and third overall.
“It’s enormous,” Fairmont coach Dave Miller said. “They worked their tails off, and it’s reward. They understand why they do that now, why they spend all that time in the offseason, why they spend time in the summer. It’s for moments like this. We get to play in week 11. It’s pretty cool.”
Fairmont advanced despite a 49-44 loss to Wayne in week eight and a 17-0 loss to Centerville in week nine.
“It’s a credit to them,” Miller said. “That was a really tough loss last week. We had to do some healing there. They did a good job responding and saying, ‘On to the next week.’ They came to play tonight against a really good football team loaded with talent all over the place. We did a heck of a job. I’m very proud of the kids.”
Northmont, Springfield and Wayne all made the playoffs in Region 3. Miamisburg, a team Fairmont beat 25-24 in week six, was the first team left out in a powerhouse region after losing 21-6 to Northmont on Friday.
“It’s totally stacked,” Miller said. “That’s great character building to be able to play against that type of competition.”
Two first-half touchdowns stood up for Fairmont against Springfield.
After Springfield lost a fumble on its first drive, giving Fairmont the ball at the Springfield 46-yard line, Jesse Deglow scored on a 3-yard run with 1:57 left in the first quarter.
In the second quarter, Aaron Jackson scored on a 5-yard run with 3:38 to play for Fairmont.
Springfield’s offense struggled for most of the game but found a rhythm in the fourth quarter. Raheim Moss scored on a 14-yard run with 10:04 left in the fourth quarter to cut Fairmont’s lead to 14-7.
The Wildcats were driving for the potential tying score late in the fourth quarter when they lost a fumble after converting on 4th-and-4 at the 15. Fairmont took over and ran out the clock in the final minutes.
“We can’t shoot ourselves in the foot,” Douglass said. “We did it way too many times today. The good thing is we get another week to bounce back from it.”