ROME TOWNSHIP, Ohio — If ESPN Classic showed high school football games, Athens at Fairland Friday would be on the schedule.
Joel Lambiotte threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Brennan West with 38 seconds to play Friday night to give Fairland (2-0) a 35-31 upset victory over the visiting Bulldogs at Jim Mayo Stadium.
The game, which took 3:09 to play, featured 70 passes, 17 penalties, eight lead changes and wild variety of emotions.
Athens (1-1) took a 31-28 lead with 2:44 left when Clay Davis, in the grasp of two defenders, threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Logan Maxfield. The play was set up by a roughing the passer penalty on Fairland on an incomplete pass on fourth down with 2:51 left.
The Dragons took the ensuing kickoff to their own 38 and moved 62 yards in eight plays, with Lambiotte’s fourth touchdown pass of the night and Alec Bruce’s fifth extra point setting the score. The drive was helped by a roughing the passer call on Athens to give Fairland a first down at the 16 with 1:01 to play.
The scoring pass was the lone catch for West among Lambiotte’s 19 completions in 32 attempts for 275 yards.
Davis, a 6-foot-2, 218-pound senior completes 25 of 45 passes for 283 yards and three touchdowns for the Bulldogs. Davis’ first touchdown toss came on the opening drive when he hit Evan Adams with a 9-yard pass.
Lambiotte tied the game with a 42-yard touchdown run during which he appeared to be tackled near the 20, but escaped and scampered to the end zone to tie it 7-7.
Davis scored on a 4-hard keeper with 1:20 left in the first quarter to give Athens a 14-7 lead, but Lambiotte threw a 24-yard scoring strike to Zeke Ramey with 4:41 left in the second quarter and the teams went into halftime tied 14-14.
The Bulldogs regained the lead on Rider Stock’s 31-hard field goal at 8:57 of the third quarter. Athens had second-and-goal at the Fairland 9, but Kyle Rankin’s 5-hard sack of Davis was key in keeping the Bulldogs out of the end zone.
Fairland took a 21-17 lead on Lambiotte’s 8-yard TD pass to Reilly Sowards with 4:14 left in the third period. That play was set up by a roughing the passer call that nullified an interception by Braeden Halbert at the Athens 2 one play earlier.
Davis struck again at 10:32 of the fourth quarter when he hit Joey Moore with an 8-yard touchdown pass to give Athens a 24-21 edge, but Lambiotte and Spears’s connected again in the back of the end zone to put Fairland back in front 28-24.
Spears’s finished with 107 yards on seven catches.
The Dragons begin Ohio Valley Conference play at 7 pm Friday at home vs. Ironton (1-1).