Virginia-Wise went into Saturday’s homecoming contest allowing opponents 280.5 yards per game then saw Fairmont State put up 516 yards in a 24-6 MEC win at Carl Smith Stadium.
“I think Fairmont is a good football team. I don’t think there’s any denying that,” said Virginia-Wise coach Dane Damron. “We’re just not very good right now. We turn the ball over too much. We don’t get off the field on third downs. We don’t stay on the field on third downs. We don’t value possession of the football.
“That’s the story of our football season. Not capitalizing when we get the opportunity. We get people in third and long and we miss tackles, we lose contain, we give up a large passing play. And on offense we get some momentum going and then the quarterback will take an inopportune sack or we’ll turn the ball over. That’s been us for five games and we got to just keep digging and get better.”
FALCONS FLY HIGH
Takwan Crews-Naylor completed 17 of 26 passes for 271 yards and two touchdowns with one interception and Khalik Hamlin rushed for 109 yards on 16 carries for Fairmont (4-1, 3-1).
“We knew coming in that we were going to have to stay out on the field a little bit more offensively than we did,” Damron said. “But we were 4-of-18 (on third down) and two crucial turnovers. Two crucial turnovers going into scores and it’s a totally different game.”
The Cavaliers (1-4, 1-4) had 339 yards, led by freshman quarterback Tanner Bernard’s 232 yards on 23-of-39 passing. He threw for one touchdown and had one interception.
Sophomore quarterback Jarome Johnson started the game for the Cavs but played only one series. He threw one pass that fell incomplete and kept the ball five times for 20 yards. Johnson, who suffered a shoulder injury in the first game of the season, ran gingerly on each carry.
“Jarome practiced for a week and I wasn’t just going to throw him back in there,” Damron said. “He wasn’t running like he normally runs. He didn’t look like he was full speed.”
The coach wouldn’t speculate on whether Johnson’s shoulder was still bothering him — responding “I’m not a doctor” when questioned — and refused a media request to speak with the quarterback.
The Cavaliers seemed confused offensively over the final six minutes of the game as far as getting players on and off the field and getting a play off on time.
“I wouldn’t say we were confused,” Bernard said. “We were just tired and beat up a little bit. But we just had to keep digging.”
Virginia-Wise faces another tough challenge next Saturday with a MEC contest at Urbana while Fairmont State is at home against Notre Dame College.