By Tom Ramstetter, Enquirer contributor
Fairfield built an early three-score lead and held on for a 31-21 win over Greater Miami Conference rival Mason on a cold Friday night at Mason High School.
The Indians improved to 8-1 (5-1 GMC) to build on their best start to a season since 1986, according to Fairfield coach Jason Krause. Fairfield won its only Division I state football title that season.
“It’s fun,” sophomore receiver TC Wells said. “We’ve got a great group of seniors and we’re playing great.”
Fairfield, ranked No. 5 in the latest Enquirer Division I area coaches’ poll, built a 17-0 lead midway through the second quarter and led 24-7 at halftime.
Unranked Mason fell to 3-6 (2-4).
Wells got the Indians on the board on their first possession of the game with a 52-yard touchdown reception from senior quarterback Ryan Nuss. Wells caught the ball over a Mason defender, separated with a stiff arm and sprinted down the right sideline.
“It came to me and it was time to make a play,” Wells said.
It was the first of two touchdowns for the speedy sophomore. Wells entered the game with one touchdown catch this season.
Nuss – also the Fairfield kicker – then converted a Mason fumble into points with a 22-yard field goal late in the first quarter and sophomore quarterback Hunter Krause made it 17-0 with a nine–yard touchdown pass to senior receiver Herman Brunis early in the second quarter.
Mason had the ball at its 45 with 4:21 to play and a 10-poin deficit, but the Comets went four-and-out. A holding call on what would have been a first down doomed the comeback attempt.
Play of the Game: Wells’s second touchdown of the game was a 54-yard reception that answered the Edwards score and ultimately crushed Mason’s chances for a comeback.
Hunter Krause hit Wells at the left sideline with a pass just out of the reach of a Mason defender. Wells held onto the ball and sprinted down the left sideline to the 15 where he cut across the middle of the field and into the end zone, chased by five Comets.
“I just got it and made a play,” Wells said.
The touchdown capped a two-play, 58-yard drive and came less than a minute after Mason’s first score – a seven-yard run by Mason junior running back Lucas Edwards.
Stars of the Game: Nuss completed 10 of 15 passes for 151 yards and a touchdown and Hunter Krause added six completions in nine attempts for 124 yards and two touchdown passes.
Wells made only three catches for 142 yards, but two were long touchdowns. Brunis added six catches for 64 yards and senior Patrick Thompkins added four catches for 46 yards.
“We keep saying we’ve got all those guys,” Jason Krause said. “It’s hard to pick one and defend and take a guy away from us. TC had an opportunity to make some plays tonight and he did.”
Edwards finished with 143 yards on 17 carries and scored two Mason touchdowns. Senior quarterback Jensen Harris completed 20 of 35 passes for 221 yards for Mason and added a four-yard touchdown run midway through the fourth quarter to cap the scoring.
View From the Sideline: “I just said to the team that I didn’t like the way we finished,” Jason Krause said. We’ve prided ourselves on being a good finisher all year and playing well in the second half – especially the fourth quarter. I didn’t think we finished well the last five to seven minutes.
“Our defense continued to make plays when we needed them. We’re still not happy with how we finished.”
Extra Points: The teams combined for 18 penalties. Mason was flagged 12 times for 121 yards and Fairfield was called for six penalties for 69 yards.
Fairfield will play at Hamilton (1-8, 0-6) Week 10 to close the regular season ahead of what could be the Indians’ first playoff berth since 2005. Fairfield was eliminated that year in the first round by eventual state champion St. Xavier.
F-Wells 52 pass from Nuss (Nuss kick).
F-Nuss FG 22.
F-Brunis 9 pass from Krause (Nuss kick).
M-Edwards 7 run (Kramer kick).
F-Wells 54 pass from Krause (Nuss kick).
M-Edwards 13 run (kick failed).
F-Harper 3 run (Nuss kick).
M-Harris 4 run (pass good).
Records: F 8-1, 5-1 GMC; M 3-6, 2-4