MILFORD CENTER — In an emotional game for both schools, the Waynesfield-Goshen Tigers edged the Fairbanks Panthers 12-6 on Friday at Fairbanks.
Waynesfield dedicated the game to long-time team bus driver, Deb Boday, and former athlete Ned Burden, both of which passed away earlier in the week.
And Fairbanks dedicated the game to senior quarterback, Mitch Rausch, who was involved in an automobile accident on Thursday night.
In what has become perhaps the most highly anticipated game on the Northwest Central Conference docket each year, the rivals dueled in a hard-fought defensive battle.
“Our defense and offense really stepped up tonight,” W-G coach Gary Spencer said. “We finally put four quarters together. The whole team worked together and played for a good cause. This was really was a great win for the community.”
The game started out slow. Waynesfield put together a 22-play drive that consumed more than 11 minutes of the second quarter.
Gabe Hennon scored with 38 seconds left in the first half to give the Tigers a 6-0 lead.
Waynesfield’s Colton Miller scored another touchdown with 7:47 left in the third quarter to make it 12-0.
The Panthers finally made it on the board in the beginning of the fourth quarter with a 6-yard pass from Hunter Burnett to Hayden Dillon. But the Tigers held on for the win.
Fairbanks committed a crucial unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty with 5:10 on the clock. Then the Tigers defense came up with a 15-yard tackle for loss to force a turnover on downs.
W-G took over at the 3:07 mark and ran out the clock to stay ahead and ensure the win.
“We put nice drives together but we really wore ourselves out,” Fairbanks coach Morgan Cotter said. “They have good athletes. Lee Turner, defensively and Gabe Hennon, offensively. I think my kids played hard as well but the long drives really wore them out.
“The Tigers were physical up front in the trenches playing smash-mouth ball. They were three yards and a cloud of dust.”
W-G is now 2-2, 1-0 in the NWCC. Fairbanks is 1-3, 0-1.