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Football: Defense, special teams shine for FHS

Farmington's Jordan DeCroock breaks away from a Rochester Mayo tackle on a first-half punt return Friday night at Tiger Stadium. The Tigers' special teams paved the way for a 19-7 victory.

Big plays on special teams, a smothering run defense and a steady, balanced offense made for a promising start to the season for the Farmington football team Friday night.

Kicker Reid Taubenheim drilled a school-record four field goals, including a record-long boot of 48 yards, Athen Ashton returned a kick for a touchdown and the defense shut out Rochester Mayo over the final 34-plus minutes in a 19-7 win over the Spartans under the lights at Tiger Stadium.

The Tigers won their opener for the first time since 2009 and avenged a 35-28 heartbreaker against Mayo in Week 1 of last season.

"There were positives all around, in all three phases of the game," Farmington head coach Mark Froehling said shortly after the final horn.

The game started on an ominous note for the home team as senior quarterback Darren Beenken overthrew a receiver for an interception on the third play from scrimmage. He made up for it, however, running 37 yards on the first play of the next series to move the ball into Mayo territory and set up Taubenheim's first field goal, a 21-yarder.

The Spartans responded with their lone score of the game as an 11-play drive culminated in a three-yard touchdown plunge with 10:45 remaining in the second quarter.

The lead lasted just over 15 seconds of game time as Ashton zigzagged through the Mayo defense on the ensuing kickoff for an 88-yard touchdown.

The Spartans punted on their next drive and ended up punting on seven straight possessions before a turnover on downs in the final minute.

"I was really happy with our run defense. They did a great job on first down to put them in second and long and third and long situations," Froehling said. "We also brought a lot of pressure and put them in some tough spots."

The Tigers started their next possession at their own 14-yard line, but moved into Mayo territory on a 38-yard play-action pass from Beenken to Tyler VanWinkle. Three plays later, Taubenheim nailed a 48-yard field goal that cleared the cross-bar with room to spare and made the score 13-7.

Taubenheim then capped off a nine-play drive in the final 2:19 of the half with a 33-yard field goal that sailed through the uprights as time expired.

Taubenheim kicked his fourth and final field goal from 43 yards out on the first drive of the second half. Despite the record night kicking field goals, Froehling said after the game his best kick of the night may have come later in the game in a botched punt. After the long snap sailed over his head, Taubenheim, also the punter, ran 10 yards backwards, grabbed the ball in stride and grounded a punt 30 yards up the field while in the grasp of a Spartan defender. The net of the punt was only eight yards, but it saved the Tigers 30 yards of field position that would have put the Spartans in position to score a touchdown.

"Reid had a phenomenal night. There were a lot of special teams things that helped us win the game," Froehling said. "Even just running the kicking team out, then switching to the punt team and back to the kick team after a penalty and having all the right guys come in and out. Coach Wyandt had everybody knowing where to be and executing."

The offense also executed well much of the game, according to Froehling, despite not capping off any drives with touchdowns. Taubenheim didn't punt for the first time until 10:10 remaining in the fourth quarter. Passing and rushing statistics were not available.

Nick Ruark and Taubenheim led the Tiger defense with 10 tackles apiece. John LeBlond and Mason Auge added nine apiece and Godfrey Mpetey, Alex Chadwick and Kevin Clifton recorded seven each. Denver Robinson added three tackles and a pair of sacks.