XENIA — Kneeling on the 38-yard line and wiping his eyes, Fairborn football coach Randy Kerns couldn’t hide his emotions.
And he didn’t try to after his visiting Skyhawks beat Xenia, 21-16, in a season-opening for both teams that came down to the final seconds, and was in doubt until QB Patrick Parrish ran around in the end zone to run the final seconds off the clock before taking a safety.
“I’m literally overcome,” Kerns said after taking a minute to compose himself. “I just know where we were. Where we started from. ” The second-year coach was referring to last year’s 42-0 drubbing by Xenia in his debut as the head coach.
“We had no business being out there,” Kerns said. “(But tonight) was exactly how we wanted to play. Our kids are gassed, their kids are gassed.”
The defenses are likely more gassed than the offense due to multiple turnovers by both teams, including several inside the the shadow of the goalposts. The final one ultimately cost Xenia the game as with 1:06 left, the Bucs fumbled on the 5-yard line and when it was recovered by the Skyhawks, all they had to do was run out the clock.
“Can’t turn the football over,” Xenia Coach Trace Smitherman said. “We’re a no excuse ball club. They were the better team tonight. They got after us. We’ve got to regroup.”
After a scoreless first quarter, Xenia struck quickly when senior Gavin Severt picked up a fumble on the 1-yard line and rumbled 99 yards with a convoy of blockers behind him for a touchdown with 2:25 left in the half. The extra point failed and Xenia led 6-0.
On the ensuing drive, Severt jumped a route and picked off a pass, returning it 24 yards to the Fairborn 43. On the second play of the possession, QB Cole English handed off to Isaiah Hoyt, who threw to a wide open Elijah Fields for a 39-yard TD. Ramon Browder ran the 2-point conversion for a 14-0 halftime lead.
On their first possession of the second half, the Skyhawks made it 14-7 after a 38-yard run by Parrish, who shook off a couple tacklers to clear a path.
On its next possession, Xenia marched from its own 35 to the Fairborn 2-yard line and was about to score but a fumble out of bounds gave Fairborn the ball.
Both teams fumbled on subsequent possessions and Xenia led 14-7 after three.
Xenia fumbled on its first play of the fourth and Fairborn went 45 yards on eight plays, scoring on a 14-yard fade pass from Parrish to Dwight Lewis. The PAT failed and it was 14-13 with 8:37 left.
Fairborn forced a Xenia punt after the Bucs started deep in their own territory and a nice return by Caelan Bush set up the Skyhawks at the Xenia 20.
Three plays later Hunter Warner scored on a 6-yard run and added the 2-point conversion for a 21-14 lead with 4:32 left.
Xenia started its final possession on its own 24 and moved quickly into Fairborn territory, but a Xenia player fumbled on second-and-goal from the five to basically end the game.
Stats were not available prior to press time. Look for a detailed recap Tuesday.
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.