FAIRMONT — In the third installment in as many years of emerging rivals and Class AA titans, Bluefield walked into the Nightmare of 12th Street at Fairmont Senior’s East-West Stadium and came away with a 40-24 state semifinal triumph that’ll put the Beavers in Wheeling for the third straight season.
The No. 4-seeded Beavers avenged last season’s state championship game loss to the Polar Bears while also snapping Fairmont’s 26-game winning streak.
“I’m so proud of them,” said 34th-year Bluefield head coach Fred Simon, who will go for his sixth career state championship against the winner of Saturday’s semifinal between No. 6 Oak Glen and No. 2 Bridgeport.
“To come in here and win, we knew how tough it was going to be. We’re fortunate, we’re happy and we’re humble.”
J.J Davis led the effort for the Beavers with 151 rush yards and a touchdown on 28 carries to go with a game-turning interception with Fairmont Senior poised to take a 14-6 in the second quarter.
Beavers quarterback Carson Deeb added another 171 yards and four touchdowns with no turnovers through the air as he completed 12-of-17 passes. And junior linebacker Shawn Mitchell was the standout on defense, as he gobbled up three sacks, a tackle for loss, and a pick six on the final play of regulation while spending the bulk of the night spying Faimont Senior star quarterback Gage Michael.
“That little guy, I call him ‘Mongoose’ because he attacks cobras and everything else,” Simon said of Mitchell.
“He’s only 5-foot-4, about 160 pounds, but he’s all over the field. He’s what makes football such a great sport. He plays with everything you could want a player to play with.”
Jahiem House and Brandon Wiley each caught a pair of touchdowns for the Beavers. Wiley burned the FSHS secondary on a pair of one-play drives via a 68-yard TD grab with 1:06 in the first half and then a 26-yard TD up the seam to push the Beavers’ lead to 27-10 with eight minutes to go in the third quarter.
House, meanwhile, notched both of his TD catches with plays out of the air. He toe-tapped in the back of the end zone for the team’s opening score to cut FSHS’s lead to 7-6 with 11 minutes left in the second quarter, and then in the third quarter, he went up over an FSHS defender to bring down a 17-yard TD that extended the Beavers’ lead back to 17 at 34-17.
Fairmont Senior was led offensively by quarterback Gage Michael, who rushed for 173 yards and a TD, while also going 16-of-24 passing for 227 yards with a pair of touchdowns and a pair of interceptions. Michael was also sacked four times and lost a fumble.
“Our guys fought the whole game man. We were one bounce away from an opportunity to get back in the game and make something happen, but we never got that break,” Fairmont Senior coach Nick Bartic said.
Bluefield will play the winner of Bridgeport-Oak Glen, which is being played today, Dec. 6 in Wheeling at 7 p.m.