One step closer to the Dome

If there were any non-believers of Worthington football, they have undoubtedly been converted, especially after the third-seeded Trojans upset the No. 2 state-ranked Fairmont Cardinals Friday night, 35-26, to capture the Section 3AAA championship.

If there were any non-believers of Worthington football, they have undoubtedly been converted, especially after the third-seeded Trojans upset the No. 2 state-ranked Fairmont Cardinals Friday night, 35-26, to capture the Section 3AAA championship.

Trailing 26-22 with 7:01 remaining in the fourth quarter, the Trojans left it all on the field, marching 68 yards to the Cardinal 1-yard line before senior fullback Matt Cowdin plunged in for the game-winning score, 27-26, with 1:12 left.

"We worked hard on the six inches between the ears," a visibly emotional Worthington head coach Dennis Hale said. "We had a mental edge because Fairmont was undefeated. Kids are kids and they know that and they read the paper. They knew what we did against Marshall. I knew if we could just come out and hang with them, we had a shot."

Junior tailback Nate Stoll scored twice for the Trojans on dashes of eight and 13 yards. Quarterback Chris Aggen connected with wide receiver Andrew Berg on a 46-yard strike and Ben Collin picked off a pass and returned for a touchdown with 47 seconds left to seal the victory.

The Trojans set the tone early, as Jordan Nielsen stopped the Cardinals' touted running back Mike Wubbena on a fourth-and-4 on the Trojan 25.


That gave the ball to the Trojans, who had trouble moving the ball in the first quarter. But another fourth down stop by the Trojan garrison helped Worthington gain momentum and close the first quarter at a scoreless tie.

On the first play of the second quarter, Chad Vaske intercepted Fairmont quarterback Eric Hugoson to set up the first score of the game. Vaske returned the ball to the Cardinal 33, where the Trojans went to work.

A quick 5-yard gain by Cowdin and a 7-yard reception by Collin gave the Trojans a first down on the Cardinal 21. Stoll then burst up the middle for 13 yards and on the next play scampered in untouched from eight yards out to give the Trojans a 6-0 lead.

But Fairmont didn't let that lead stand for long, as Wubbena struck back just 15 seconds later on a 61-yard streak up the middle to tie the score at 6-all. An excited Wubbena spiked the ball and the Cardinals had to attempt the PAT from 25 yards out. The try was no good and the score remained 6-all.

Stoll was huge on the Trojans' next drive picking up big yardage on an improvised screen play and hitting holes for big gains on the ground, the last of which was good for a 13-yard TD to give the Trojans a 13-6 advantage with 6:14 left in the half.

Vaske came up big again with 2:41 left, as he picked off his second pass of the game. He had perfect coverage on the Cardinals top receiver, Jake Peymann, and turned at just the right moment to snatch the ball above Peymann's head.

As the game neared intermission, the momentum was squarely in favor of the Trojans. On fourth-and-long from their own 20, the Cardinals snapped the ball over their punters head and through the end zone giving the Trojans two points on the safety.

Leading 15-6 to begin the third quarter, the Trojans could taste victory and fired away. On first-and-10 from the Cardinal 46, Aggen found a streaking Berg down the right side. Catching the ball on the 7, the senior dragged his defender across the goal line to give the Trojans a seemingly commanding lead at 22-6 with 10:56 left in the quarter.


But the potent Fairmont attack took control on their next possession, marching 65 yards on 12 plays to narrow the margin, 22-12. Wubbena chugged the last five yards for the score.

Aggen was picked off on the Trojans very next offensive play as he tried to hook up with Berg again and the Cardinals quickly hit paydirt.

Hugoson hit Peymann from 7 yards out to edge closer at 22-18.

The Trojans had a chance to get those points back as they marched down to the Fairmont 17. But on third down, Aggen was intercepted in the end zone by none other than Wubbena.

Trailing 22-18 to begin the fourth, the Cardinals kept it simple, feeding their meal ticket Wubbena for medium range gains on the ground. The speedy back finished a 37-yard drive with a 10-yard burst into the end zone, giving Fairmont its first lead of the game, 26-22, with 7:01 left in the contest.

But David conquered Goliath, as the Trojans wouldn't be stopped.

"The last thing that I thought that would let us down was our defense," Fairmont head coach Troy Cody said. "We just didn't tackle and we didn't make the plays in the fourth quarter. Worthington played a great game."

The Trojans advance to the Class AAA quarterfinals Friday night when they visit Plainville-Elgin-Milville. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.


WHS 0 15 7 13 -- 35

Fairmont 0 6 12 8 -- 26

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