Falcons fall to Eagles

Published 12:30 am Saturday, August 26, 2017

The Fuqua School varsity football team was within striking distance of the lead at times during its season-opening contest Friday night against visiting Fredericksburg Christian School, but the Eagles pulled away to defeat the Falcons 33-19.

“We’ve got a bunch of stuff to fix,” Fuqua Head Coach Ben Manis said, alluding to a variety of miscues in different phases of the game. “… It was just a night that nothing could go right for us.”

The Eagles took a 6-0 lead in the first quarter and made it 13-0 in the second quarter after a long interception return for a touchdown.

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Later in the second, Falcons senior Ben Bailey ran for a 19-yard touchdown to help make it 13-7, but Fredericksburg Christian scored again before halftime to claim a 20-7 lead.

Sophomore Elijah Warner ended up getting more reps at quarterback due to the absence of senior Billy French who was sidelined with a preseason stress fracture in his foot that will keep him out from two to four weeks.

“He’s a big-time, key player,” Manis said of French, noting he can play a variety of offensive positions, any position on defense and he’s key to special teams as well.

Though shouldering more of the load than intended, Warner showed promise, going 10-for-18 passing for 103 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.

His four-yard touchdown pass to senior Tyler Thomas made the score 20-13 late in the third quarter.

The Eagles responded quickly, though, as junior Aaron Johnson ran for a 65-yard touchdown to help make the score 27-13.

“We did kind of let that one player really beat us,” Manis said of Johnson. “That kid’s a heck of an athlete.”

Fredericksburg Christian scored again with 3:55 left in the fourth to go up 33-13.

Though only 1:19 remained, Fuqua closed the gap when Warner hit Bailey on a short swing pass for a touchdown to make the score 33-19.

Bailey finished the game with 20 carries for 39 yards and a touchdown and two receptions for 15 yards and a touchdown.

Warner had 12 carries for 32 yards.

Thomas led the team in receiving with five catches for 81 yards and a score.

Hurting Fuqua’s efforts in the second half was the loss of versatile senior Warren Dabney due to cramping. Senior center Michael Davis also went out late in the second half as Manis said he “got his knee rolled up on.”

The Falcons (0-1) have a bye next week.

“It kind of helps we’ve got a bye,” the coach said. “ We’ve got some guys who are banged up. It’s hard with the low numbers. You try to go hard in practice, and if you don’t have enough guys to go hard in practice, it’s hard to go hard in a game.”

Manis said it will be interesting to see how his team responds.

“I think we’re definitely better than we showed tonight,” he said.