GUILFORD >> The third quarter has not been very favorable for Fitch this season. It looked like that trend would continue Friday against Guilford.
The host Indians, already leading by a touchdown, recovered an onside kick to start the second half. But the Falcons kept their composure and forced Guilford to punt. On the ensuing possession, freshman Cevon Riley scored on a 71-yard touchdown run that tied the game.
After another defensive stop later in the quarter, senior Parker Gibson’s 55-yard touchdown run gave Fitch the lead for good. The Falcons won their fourth straight game with a 31-20 non-conference victory at Kavanaugh Field.
“We knew what we needed to do to come out in the second half,” Fitch senior Luke Letellier said. “Up to this point we’ve played bad in the third quarter in every game, so we knew we needed to step it up third quarter and bring it to them.”
After Riley’s touchdown, Guilford (1-5) moved the ball down field, at one point getting to the Fitch 2. But a sack for a 13-yard loss and an incompletion led to a field goal attempt that missed. The Falcons took over and Gibson scored the go-ahead touchdown on the series.
“I think the difference tonight is what we talked about at halftime,” Fitch coach Mike Ellis said, “which was, we had to play in the second half with character and composure. In the first half, we were short-circuiting a little bit, we were getting too excited, and we were trying to do too much and not do our jobs. In the second half, we came out and everyone just did their jobs. They relaxed, they listened and it was a better second half. We made some plays.”
Mike Filley (30 carries, 155 yards) scored on a 3-yard run in the first quarter for the Indians. Fitch responded and tied the game on Cleon Mclish’s 2-yard run. Ben Fazzina then caught a 17-yard touchdown pass from Jack Jankura to give Guilford a 14-7 lead.
The Indians had a chance to score on the last possession of the first half, but a pass fell incomplete in the end zone.
“(Missed opportunities) have been the story of the season, for the most part,” first-year Guilford coach Mike Eagle said. “We battle in the first half, and then we come out in the second half and something happens and we go away with that intensity for a little bit.
“It’s part of the building process. We’re upset and disappointed in the loss, and losses we’ve had, but I can see the growth in these guys, especially tonight. They took a step in the program building.”
Filley also scored on a 13-yard run with just seconds remaining in the game. Jankura completed 21 of 35 passes for 222 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Senior Casey Huffman caught nine balls for 114 yards.
Letellier and Jonathon Johnston each had interceptions for Fitch, while Trent Evans and Jacob Caramante each recorded a sack.
Letellier caught a 44-yard touchdown pass from senior Robert Duncan, and junior Colton St. Louis kicked a 28-yard field goal in the fourth quarter for Fitch (4-1). Duncan completed 9 of 14 passes for 158 yards, while Letellier caught six passes for 146 yards.
Fitch, members of the ECC, were pleased with the victory over the SCC’s Indians.
“It means a lot,” Duncan said. “We know these guys come out here and they play, like, (in) a tougher conference, and we knew all week they were going to be tough. But we came out with the victory.”
Fitch 31, Guilford 20
Fitch 7 0 14 10 — 31
Guilford 7 7 0 6 — 20
G—Mike Filley 3 run (Luke Cianciolo kick)
F—Cleon Mclish 2 run (Colton St. Louis kick)
G—Ben Fazzina 17 pass from Jack Jankura (Cianciolo kick)
F—Cevon Riley 71 run (St. Louis kick)
F—Parker Gibson 55 run (St. Louis kick)
F—Luke Letellier 44 run (St. Louis kick)
F—Colton St. Louis 28 FG
G—Mike Filley 13 run (kick failed)
Team records: Guilford 1-5; Fitch 4-1