RUTLAND — Saturday's DIII football state championship game pitted the top-seeded Blue Devils of Poultney (10-1) against Franklin County's own Fairfax/LU Bullets (9-2).
The teams, known for their tough, pound and ground play, took the field on a cold, sunny afternoon--Fairfax looking for the program's second state championship and Poultney looking for redemption after a crushing defeat on the same field a year ago.
It was the Blue Devils who won the day, earning the 17-8 win over the Bullets.
An early fumble in the first quarter at the Fairfax 30-yard line gave Poultney the ball and resulted in a touchdown for the Blue Devils at 6:40. The extra point brought the score to 7-0.
Fairfax/LU stopped Poultney on downs at the 35-yard line at the end of the first quarter on an impressive tackle by Gage Brown.
The teams left the first quarter with the Blue Devils holding the 7-0 lead.
In the second quarter, the Blue Devils added another touchdown and an extra point with five minutes on the clock, holding the 14-0 lead and limiting the Bullets to 46-yards as the teams headed to the halftime break.
In the third quarter, the Blue Devils tacked on a 29-yard field goal for their final offensive contribution of the game.
The Bullets fought for three quarters before Jaxon Schaarschmidt finally broke through on an impressive 75-yard touchdown run and a successful 2-point conversion.
The touchdown, which came with 11:07 on the clock, buoyed up the Bullets late in the game and rallied the Fairfax/LU faithful who traveled enforce to support their hometown team.
Schaarschmidt lifted the team once again, recovering a fumble and carrying the ball for three plays, before making an incredible catch and leaving the field with an injury.
Another scoring opportunity came minutes later as Fairfax/LU began a 20-play, 70-yard,10-minute drive from their 25-yard line, which nearly ended in a touchdown.
"We had Jaxon's great touchdown run, but he got dinged up on the pass and had to come out," said Fairfax/LU coach Craig Sleeman. "We also had a fullback who hurt his hand, and we ended up with some people out of place for a drive at the end of the game."
Schaarschmidt led the Bullets with 118 yards on 14 carries.
"The kids fought hard, and we were right there to the end," said Sleeman. "I'm proud of them. They're a great group of young men."
Messenger Sports would like to recognize the Fairfax/LU seniors who played their final season with the team: Cameron Meunier, Noah Brock, Quinn Meunier, Ty Garon, Patrick Roling, Gage Brown, and Jon Post.
Thank you to all of the Bullets' football players and coaches for your excellent efforts this season. To the seniors, we wish you the best in the years ahead!