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Mistakes haunt RCB in loss to Polar Bears

by Mike Nutter

SPORTS WRITER

FAIRMONT -- Robert C. Byrd failed to take advantage of some key scoring opportunities. Fairmont Senior didn't make the same mistake.

The Polar Bears overcame a 6-0 deficit at halftime to defeat the Eagles, 13-6, at East-West Stadium in Fairmont.

It was the first time Fairmont Senior opened its season with a win since 2000.

"Last year we almost eliminated ourselves from any playoffs after the first five games," Polar Bears tailback Matt Deligatti said. "This year we got that first one. Now we have to keep on rolling."

Deligatti was held to just 71 yards on 21 carries, but gave the Polar Bears the insurance they would need with a 1-yard touchdown run with 4:54 to play. The score capped an eight-play 87-yard drive to give Fairmont Senior a 13-6 lead.

Will Copney highlighted the drive with a 51-yard run down to the Robert C. Byrd 13 and finished the game with 100 yards on 11 carries.

"I think we really underestimated them up front," Deligatti said. "That's a good football team. They're going to win a lot of games."

The Eagles (0-1) took a 6-0 lead with 6:31 left in the second quarter on Nick Alex's 17-yard touchdown pass to senior Tyjuan Wright.

Fairmont Senior (1-0) responded by drive down to the 4, but were held on downs as quarterback D.J. Mugnano was stopped at the 2 as time expired in the first half.

Robert C. Byrd, however would twice squander potential scoring opportunities, driving inside the Polar Bear 20 on its first two possessions of the second half, but coming away with no points.

The Eagles got down to the Polar Bear 13 on their first possession of the fourth, but were stopped on fourth-and-1.

"I knew those would come back to kill us," second-year Eagles coach Bryan Fisher said. "You could feel the game slipping away. It's frustrating. We just continually shot ourselves in the foot. This was a game that we could've walked away with a win.

"That's taking nothing from Fairmont. They played hard and did what they had to do to win."

Trailing 6-0, and backed up on its own 32, Fairmont Senior was forced to punt. On the return, the Eagles fumbled and Joseph Tatta recovered on the 19. Four players later, Drew Mauck went around the left side for a three-yard touchdown, and Deligatti's kick gave the Polar Bears a 7-6 lead with 2:06 left in the third.

"We had other opportunities that we felt like we should've scored on in the first half, Deligatti said. "That was a big play for us. We knew that if we got one in, they weren't going to score again."

The Eagles defense, which suffered mightily against the run in 2002, allowed just 2.6 yards per carry. However, the offense struggled in the air, converting on just six of 21 attempts for 85 yards.

Senior Chris Kitzmiller had two sacks and a fumble recovery for Robert C. Byrd, while Matt Barberio had two tackles for losses.

Wright finished with 93 yards on 10 carries, while Jake Toth added 65 yards on 10 attempts. Junior Migel Lockett caught two passes for 41 yards.

"If you would've told me we would hold them to 13 points and play the way we did on defense I would've like our chances," Fisher said. "We missed some plays, but at times I thought Nick looked good. It's just one game.

"We'll be ready to play next week. We'll get some things fixed and be ready."

Sports writer Mike Nutter can be reached at 626-1444 or by e-mail at mnutter@exponent-telegram.com