FAIRVIEW -Youngsville head coach Luke Alex preached it all preseason.
"I said we needed to limit our turnovers as well as big plays on defense," Alex said. "We didn't do either tonight."
His Eagles struggled with both in Friday's season opener, turning the ball over four times and allowing several big running plays in a 45-21 loss to the Class AA Fairview Tigers.
A year removed from a perfect 10-0 regular season and a Region 2 championship, the Eagles appeared to have kept the momentum going on their opening drive. The team took the opening kickoff and put together three first downs while driving into Tigers territory.
However, the drive stalled when Jordan Gurdak fumbled and the Tigers recovered at their own 45. Two plays later, Fairview's stud running back Shannon Jackson rumbled 54 yards to paydirt, giving the home team a 7-0 lead.
It was the first big play in a big night for Jackson who finished with 225 yards on 28 carries and three touchdowns.
Youngsville's next possession cut even deeper into Fairview territory as the Eagles advanced as far as the Tigers 19. However, on third and long, a Jake Marino pass was intercepted at the Tigers 1 for Youngsville's second turnover of the night.
Fairview made Youngsville pay for the turnover, putting together a 90-yard, 14-play drive that ended with kicker Carl Fonticella's 26-yard field goal to make it 10-0 Fairview.
Youngsville's best offense all night was the return game of Rocco Gatta. After Fonticella's field goal, Gatta returned the kickoff all the way to the Fairview 16, setting up Youngsville's first touchdown drive of the season.
Gurdak provided the scoring play, rumbling in from three yards out and T.J. Hardy's extra point made it 10-7.
The momentum would be short lived as Fairview put together a scoring drive right before the half, scoring with 31 seconds left on Tanner Tregaskis' four-yard run to make it 17-7.
The last minute score in the first half gave Fairview momentum going into the second half and the Tigers took full advantage of it. Tregaskis scored on a 65-yard run on the first play from scrimmage in the third and Jackson had two touchdowns in a span of 29 seconds later in the quarter.
Jackson's runs of one and seven yards gave Fairview a commanding 38-7 lead with 3:18 left in the third.
Youngsville didn't go down without a fight.
Kicking away from Gatta after his long return in the second, Fonticella made a mistake in the third and the ball again landed in the hands of the Youngsville speedster. Gatta raced untouched 76 yards for the touchdown and Youngsville trailed 38-14.
As well as the special teams and offense played on Friday, the Eagles' defense struggled. The Tigers added a final scoring drive with 9:36 left in the game when Taylor Mosier scored from seven yards out.
While starting the season with a loss, the Eagles did get the final score of the evening when backup quarterback Jacob Lauffenburger hit Hardy for a 27-yard touchdown pass with 5:50 to play.
Lauffenburger was 3-for-3 for 39 yards with a touchdown on the night. Matt Fox's 43 rushing yards led the team and Gurdak added 39 and a score. Hardy caught three passes for 55 yards and a touchdown.
Fairview chewed up 457 rushing yards against Youngsville's inexperienced defense.
Youngsville will try to even its record at 1-1 Friday when it welcomes Iroquois to Mike Shine Field in the region opener for both teams.
F - Shannon Jackson 54-yard run, 6:45; Carl Fonticella kick.
F - Fonticella 26-yard field goal 7:55
Y - Jordan Gurdak 3-yard run, 5:48; TJ Hardy kick
F - Tanner Tregaskis 4-yard run, 0:31; Fonticella kick
F - Tregaskis 65-yard run, 11:47, Fonticella kick
F - Jackson 1-yard run, 3:47; Fonticella kick
F - Jackson 7-yard run, 3:18; Fonticella kick
Y - Rocco Gatta 76-yard kick return, 3:06; Hardy kick
F - Taylor Mosier 7-yard run, 9:36; Fonticella kick
Y - Jake Lauffenburger to TJ Hardy 27-yard pass, 5:50; Hardy kick
RUSHING-Y - Matt Fox 4-43, Jordan Gurdak 11-39 TD, Mitch Wilcox 6-34, Rocco Gatta 8-31, Jake Lauffenburger 3-16, Jake Marino 9-16; F - Shannon Jackson 28-225 3 TD, Tanner Tregaskis 7 for 136 2 TD, Harrold Coles 4-57, Taylor Mosier 7-39 TD, Ben Kocan 5-4, Michael McCloy 1- -4.
PASSING-Y - Jake Marino 3/6-49 INT, Jake Lauffenburger 3/3-39 TD; F - Ben Kocan 3/4-34
RECEIVING-Y - TJ Hardy 3-55 TD, Jordan Gurdak 1-19, Mike Hamrick 2-14; F - Tanner Tregaskis 2-16, Shannon Jackson 1-18