FAIRFIELD — On Saturday afternoon the Fairfield Eagles hosted the Florence Falcons on a cold and windy day to decide who would head to the Class B football state championship game.
After a defensive stalemate for the first four quarters, the Eagles broke through in overtime as their defense held on the final play to secure an 8-6 victory.
From the start, it was easy to see that one score, whether a field goal or touchdown, could be enough to decide the game.
On the opening kickoff, Fairfield's Gavin Mills took it all the back to the house, but it was called back on a block in the back call.
Fairfield was forced to punt on its opening drive, but Florence's return man, Tristin Pyette, muffed the kick and the Eagles regained possession.
From there until overtime it was a defensive battle, with the Eagles intercepting Florence quarterback Pat Duchien Jr. four times.
In overtime, the Eagles powered their way to the end zone on three straight runs with the final one coming from Miguel Perez to make it 6-0. The Eagles had a successful two-point conversion as Guidry Giles hit Daniel Faith in the end zone to make it 8-0.
"It came down to execution," Fairfield head coach Greg Misner said. "We knew it was going to be a grind. Florence is an outstanding football program, they are very well-coached and we just told the kids, 0-0 obviously, and we just got to keep fighting and digging. We’ve been here before in the semifinals and let’s just keep grinding."
On Florence's first offensive overtime play, it ran the Philadelphia Eagles' Super Bowl LII trick play, "Philly Special", as Johnny Chamberlain pitched it to Blake Shoupe, who threw the touchdown pass to Duchien.
However, on the two-point conversion, Duchien was forced out of the pocket and was intercepted by Perez to end the game.
"It was incredible," said Perez. "Just the emotional rush afterward of being successful on those plays that really turn the tides and allowed us to win this game. I was overwhelmed with joy and to be able to share that with my brothers out there was just incredible."
With the win, the Fairfield Eagles will stay at home for the title game as they'll host the Manhattan Tigers next week.