Fairport Harding’s bid for its first 3-0 start since 2012 came up a bit short on Friday as the Skippers spotted visiting Ashtabula St. John three scores in a 19-14 loss.
“Going into the game, we knew that St. John had tremendous talent at the skill positions,” said Fairport coach Cameron Ruff. “Our kids played their hearts out tonight.”
The Heralds struck first when Dave Cumberledge connected with Ty Lockett on a 55-yard touchdown pass with 4:56 left in the first quarter.
Fairport trailed at halftime, 7-0.
Cumberledge ran for a touchdown and threw one to Nick Burgard in the third quarter to push the St. John lead to 19-0.
“Defensively, we played up to speed with those kids,” Ruff said. “They’ve got a transfer from out of state with Division I offers. Dillon Knesebeck and Rashawn Alston shut him down all night with one miscue that he scored a long TD.”
Fairport mounted its comeback attempt late in the third quarter when Sam Schuster scored on an eight-yard run. Alston then returned an interception 40 yards for a touchdown with 4:36 remaining in the game but that’s as close as the Skippers would get.
“Alston came up big with two interceptions and returned one for a score,” Ruff said. “Our defensive line and linebackers pressured the QB into making some errant throws for our defensive backs to defend.”
Schuster finished the game 3-of-8 passing for 44 yards and also ran for 23 yards. Alston led the Skippers rushing attack with 126 yards on 22 carries and Cody Paugh added 79 yards on the ground with a two-point conversion to his credit.
“Offensively, we moved the ball very well on the ground,” Ruff said. “Our offensive line created holes for both Rashawn Alston and Cody Paugh, who had a career-high of 79 yards rushing on 12 carries. Alston continued his stellar start by rushing for over 100 yards for the third consecutive week.”
Mike Voiles posted a team-high eight tackles for the Skippers and he also recorded a sack. Tobin Schafer finished with six tackles and Alston had four with the two interceptions.
“The best part of tonight was that despite a 0-19 score in the third quarter, our kids stuck together and fought back to 14-19 and we had a chance to score at the end of the game,” Ruff said. “We’re not happy with the outcome but we could not ask the kids for more effort.”
Fairport (2-1) opens conference play at Berkshire on Friday.