FAIRMONT - A storm was brewing more than just in the clouds over East-West Stadium Friday, but about the only thing raining down from the heavens during Elkins High School's 53-11 win over East Fairmont were penalty flags.
Eight penalties were called in the second half for unsportsmanlike conduct and late hits, marring a victory that should have clinched a post-season berth for the ninth-ranked Elkins squad.
"Some things happened that shouldn't have happened," Elkins football coach Greg Hott said.
The Inter-Mountain photo by John Wickline
Elkins running back L.J. Lawrence looks to cut into some open space after getting a block from teammate Silas Gibson (13) in Friday’s 53-11 win over East Fairmont.
L.J. Lawrence ran for 125 yards and three touchdowns, along with returning an interception 95 yards for another score to lead the Tigers to their seventh victory of the season. Backfield mate Clayton Collett pulled in two touchdown receptions of nine and 61 yards to go with his 114 yards rushing.
Elkins went up 14-0 in the first half before East Fairmont finally got on the board with a 32-yard field goal off the foot of freshman Collin Harvath with just 47 seconds to go.
But the Tigers drove quickly down the field, and they appeared to have scored when Collett crossed the goal line on a 24-yard run.
But Collett bobbled the ball through the back of the end zone on the play, and the officials ruled a touchback and a turnover to East Fairmont with just 17 seconds to go in the half.
Elkins defensive lineman Sean Cain read the very next play perfectly, snaring the East Fairmont pass and scampering unscathed into the end zone to give his team a 21-3 lead at the intermission.
East Fairmont recovered a fumble two plays into the second half and scored a minute later when Garrett Onderko rumbled in from six yards away.
The two-point conversion pulled the Bees to within 10, and it looked as if the momentum had drastically turned in their favor when they recovered the ensuing onside kick.
A quick timeout allowed the Tigers to regain their composure, and they rattled off the next 32 points unanswered.
"I didn't think we were playing well in the first half," Hott said. "But the boys came on well in the second half and started playing football. We made a defensive switch, and it stopped what they were trying to do."
Lawrence started the barrage a few minutes later, scoring his second touchdown on the soggy evening from 17 yards out. He again crossed the goal line two minutes later from nine yards away.
Cain went high over the defender to start the fourth quarter, pulling down a 32-yard scoring strike from quarterback Silas Gibson. Collett took a screen pass from Gibson and outsprinted everyone over the next 61 yards for the score, and Lawrence stepped in front of an East Fairmont receiver for an interception he took 95 yards the other way.
Gibson completed five of his nine passing attempts for 134 yards. Cain and Collett each had two catches, and Trevor Kriess snagged the other. Gibson ran for 34 yards to help the attack, followed by Mark Parrack with 13 yards rushing.
East Fairmont, 2-6 overall and 2-5 in the Big 10, travels to face Philip Barbour next week. Elkins, 7- 2 overall and 5-1 in the Big 10, is idle next week. The Tigers will close out the regular season Nov. 2 when they host Lewis County.