Following back-to-back weeks playing the top two teams in the conference, Oberlin was looking forward to hosting one-win opponent Fairview Park for homecoming.
Coach Mike Akers’ team was also welcoming back senior quarterback Devan Yarber after a two game absence in hopes of sparking the offense to life.
In thrilling fashion, the Phoenix held off the Warriors to claim a 22-20 victory for the local faithful.
Pre-game homecoming festivities began early — the Oberlin athletic booster clubs had the grills going for their annual “Welcome Back” tailgate for alumni; the athletic department offered deeply discounted retro Indians and Phoenix gear; and Boy Scouts popcorn appeared to be everywhere.
The formal pregame activities — the introduction of the homecoming court, the crowning of king Marcquis Aguiniga Moore and queen Cameron Payne — culminated with the traditional scout-raised flag to the National Anthem. It was left at half staff in recognition of the recent Las Vegas tragedy.
The Warriors received the opening kick and proceeded to drive into the red zone before the Phoenix defense stiffened.
On fourth and goal, Fairview’s 27-yard field goal effort sailed wide right and it was Oberlin’s turn to move. On the first play from scrimmage, Yarber took the snap from the shotgun formation, and was gone 80 yards to the end-zone. But an illegal formation penalty nullified the score.
The Phoenix regrouped and following an exchange of punts, Oberlin ran the same play with identical results: an 80-yard Yarber scamper for the game’s first touchdown.
Oberlin added a second first-half touchdown after recovering a Warriors fumble near midfield, this time through the air as Yarber hit junior wide-out Aaron Arnold on a slant pattern for a 20-yard score. Following the conversion, Oberlin led 14-0.
Fairview had a few big plays of its own, striking back with a touchdown pass just before the half to close the gap to 14-7.
Following the famous Oberlin High School marching band’s light show, the Phoenix got back to business and closed out another long drive with Yarber, taking it the final six yards for the score. The two-point conversion was both good and crucial to the eventual outcome.
Lining up several players on both offense and defense as the Phoenix do, the fourth quarter is always a stamina-check for the players and coaches.
Fatigue began to play a factor and Fairview marched for two fourth quarter touchdowns, the second coming with just one minute to play.
Trailing by two, the Warriors looked to run an option play to tie the score. Defensive lineman Jeremiah Austin burst into the backfield for a sack on what turned out to be the most important tackle of the game, securing the 22-20 Phoenix victory.
Oberlin (2-5, 2-2 PAC) travels to Lutheran West on Friday for another Stripes division showdown.