TAR HEEL — Senior Jahkeem Moore provided a spark at wide receiver and quarterback Friday to lead a second-half rally by Fairmont that earned first-year coach George Coltharp his initial win with the Golden Tornadoes.
Moore hauled in a 34-yard pass from Ty-Russ Morris to help cut West Bladen’s lead to two points in the third quarter, then moved to quarterback at the start of the final period. The 5-foot-11, 160-pounder directed Fairmont’s go-ahead scoring drive, keeping the drive alive with a key 27-yard pass to Quamel Pittman on a fourth-down play.
It all added up to a 34-30 triumph for the Golden Tornadoes (1-1) in a non-conference game played at the Tar Heel Middle School field.
Fairmont, which lost its season opener by a 41-0 score against Robeson County rival Red Springs a week ago, was originally scheduled to play St. Pauls. But COVID-19 issues led to that game being postponed, so Cotharp was able to fill the spot with the non-league game against West Bladen (0-1). Because West Bladen’s field is still soggy due to the large amount of rain that’s fallen in the area recently, the game was shifted to the middle school field.
The Knights played like they were at home, however, racing out to a 14-0 advantage and leading 22-12 at halftime.
Enter Moore, who had three receptions for 61 yards in the opening drive of the second half. His 34-yarder with 8:12 left in the quarter, followed by his two-point conversion run pulled Fairmont within 22-20.
“That’s my first touchdown this season,” Moore said. “It felt good to do that. Coach Coltharp told me I’ll get plays like that, so when they come to me make it happen. I saw the look in the boys eyes after that. They were ready to get it then.”
With Morris hobbling as the fourth quarter began, Coltharp turned to Moore at quarterback. He responded by ripping off a 35-yard touchdown run on the second play from scrimmage, but that was erased because of a penalty.
But Moore would gain 19 yards on two rushes before finding Pittman on a 27-yard pass on fourth down that set up a 5-yard scoring run by Derrick Baker, who rushed for 106 yards on 16 carries. Moore added the two-point conversion run for a 26-22 Fairmont lead.
The Golden Tornadoes added an insurance score on their next possession with Moore again providing the big play with a 34-yard pass to Christopher Stevenson. Baker scored on a 5-yard run and Moore hit Collen Taylor with a two-point conversion pass for a 34-22 lead with 6:47 to play.
“We knew from the beginning if we refocused ourselves in practice this week we’d be OK,” Coltharp said. “We just work on basic offensive plays and just kept repping them over and over and over. That’s what it’s going to take. Our offense is rep-based. As we start getting better and better and better, we’ll be alright.”
Moore finished with 61 passing, 65 receiving and 20 rushing yards.
Fairmont hosts East Bladen next week.
Scotland shuts out Purnell Swett
The Purnell Swett football team opened its season with a tough test Friday at Scotland, and was shut out 41-0.
The Rams will play their opener next Friday when they host Pinecrest.
Quarantine affects Week 2
Three Robeson County teams did not play a Week 2 football game due to either themselves or their oppoents being in quarantine.
St. Pauls, who was originally scheduled to play Fairmont before the Golden Tornadoes scheduled Friday’s game against West Bladen, and Red Springs, who was to play West Columbus, are both in quarantine.
Lumberton, who had to quarantine during the early weeks of practice, could not play Jack Britt due to the Buccaneers team being in quarantine.