BENTON — The “Battle on Highway 33” traveling trophy left the grounds, as the visiting West Noble topped Fairfield 13-6 Friday in Northeast Corner Conference Big Division football.
The Chargers (2-3, 1-1 NECC Big Division) outscored the Falcons (1-4, 0-1 NECC Big) by a 13-0 count in the second half. West Noble kicker Julio Macias booted field goals of 24 and 33 yards in the fourth quarter after the Chargers scored the go-ahead touchdown in the third period.
Macias, who just barely missed a 50-yard attempt in the second quarter and regularly launched long kickoffs and punts, put the visitors ahead 13-7 with his second field goal with 28.4 seconds to go. The senior kicker’s second field came on the heels of an interception by Wesley Hilbish with 3:07 to play.
“He’s (an NCAA) D-I talent,” said Chargers coach Monte Mawhorter of Macias.
Following the field goal, Fairfield got off two plays after a long Macias kick and then time ran out.
A turnover led to West Noble’s first points and lead. Four plays after gunner Kolby Knox pounced on a Fairfield fumble on a punt play, the Chargers went ahead 7-6. Peter Bradley dashed into the end zone from 4 yards out and Macias tacked on the extra-point kick at the 8:48 mark of the third quarter.
“That was the difference,” said Mawhorter of the fumble recovery.
“The turnover bug has bitten us in severe moments all year,” said Falcons coach Matt Thacker.
Mawhorter’s defense also made adjustments in the second half and held the Falcons to three first downs in the second half after allowing eight in the first two quarters.
“We’ve got better at understanding and reading defenses,” said Thacker. “We’ve got to go where they’re not.”
Using plenty of dive and counter plays, the Chargers got 68 yards rushing from Zach Beers and 62 from Bradley.
Kitson (52 yards), Johnathan Estep (36) and Ethan Schmucker (32) paced Fairfield’s flexbone rushing attack.
West Noble was coming off a 38-10 home loss to Angola. The Falcons came into Friday’s homecoming contest after a 51-12 win at Fremont. Last season, Fairfield beat West Noble 41-7 on the way to the 2020 NECC Big School Division title.
The Falcons went up 6-0 Friday on a 45-yard TD run up the left sideline by quarterback Kitson at the 8:28 mark of the first quarter. The conversion run failed. The scoring drive took seven plays and featured a 25-yard running back pass from Michael Slabaugh and to Alex Hofer.
The Falcons gained 109 first-half yards, including 101 on the ground. Besides Kitson’s 45-yard sprint, Fairfield enjoyed runs of 23 yards by Slabaugh and 14 and 10 by Estep.
Fairfield has the ball four times before intermission and West Noble three.
Marco Garcia intercepted a pass to stop West Noble’s second possession.
The Chargers picked up 69 yards (all rushing) in the first two periods. The biggest gainers were 9-yard runs by Bradley and Beers.
Next week, West Noble visits Garrett and Fairfield welcomes Angola.
WEST NOBLE 13, FAIRFIELD 6
West Noble 0 0 7 6 — 13
Fairfield 6 0 0 0 — 6
Scoring First Quarter
F — (8:28) Carter Kitson 45 run; run failed.
WN — (8:48) Peter Bradley 4 run; Julio Macias kick.
WN — (4:07) Macias 24 field goal.
WN — (:28.4) Macias 33 field goal.