AUSTINTOWN — Coming off its first loss of the season, the Fitch High football team needed a victory over Massillon Jackson to keep pace in the Federal League.
After bolting out to a 21-3 lead in the first quarter, it looked like the rout was on. However, Jackson quarterback Grant Seanor, who accounted for more than 300 total yards, led the Polar Bears to three fourth-quarter touchdowns.
In the end, it wasn’t enough as Fitch rushed for 351 yards and the defense forced three turnovers to hold off winless Jackson 45-37 Friday night at Falcon Stadium.
“Overall, I’m not happy with the way we played,” said Fitch coach Phil Annarella. “Give Jackson credit, they fought hard and stayed in the game when they had to. We got out of synch offensively in the second half and that’s a tribute to Jackson.
“We have a lot to work on to get ready for a tough game next week against Hoover. We just self-destructed tonight.”
The Falcons scored in their first four possessions in the contest, building a 21-3 lead after one quarter. All three Fitch quarterbacks scored in the period.
Jon Ballard’s 8-yard run gave the hosts a 7-0 advantage. Junior Shane Stevens scored the first of two TDs with 2:07 left to pad the lead to 14-3. Sophomore QB Demitrious Davis added an 11-yarder to put the Falcons up 21-3.
Fitch spent much of the game rotating quarterbacks, lining Ballard up wide as a receiver — in a version of the Wildcat offense. Stevens and Davis were effective combining to rush for 51 yards. That was in addition to Ballard’s 141.
The Falcons defense did its part through three quarters, intercepting Seanor three times and holding the Polar Bears on downs several times. After a 55-yard interception return by Nick Williams, Fitch owned a comfortable 38-16 edge going into the fourth quarter.
But Jackson battled back with an array of screen and slant passes. The Polar Bears scored 14 straight points and cut the deficit to 38-30 with 4:47 remaining.
The Fitch offense finally got back on track when it needed to the most. On the following drive, sophomore Will Mahone broke loose for a 42-yard TD run to pretty much seal the win, putting the Falcons ahead by two scores 45-30 with 3:30 remaining.
Fitch (5-1, 2-1) remains one game behind GlenOak for the top spot in the Federal League.
The Falcons will travel to North Canton next week.