BOULDER —To the sounds of oohs and aahs from the homecoming crowd at Christian Recht Field, quarterback Aidan Atkinson added another chapter to his already touted, yet growing presence, among the best high school quarterbacks in the state.
Atkinson, the coveted prospect of several Power 5 schools, connected with Henry Blackburn for three scores in the opening half and added three more quick scores in the third quarter to give him a career-best six TDs, spurring Fairiview's 49-14 runaway victory over Doherty on Friday night.
Asked about his career day, Atkinson, for the first time all night, looked baffled.
"I didn't know," he said. "But I guess I know now."
He preferred this stat: Zero interceptions.
"That's the goal, right?" he grinned.
Ranked a three-star prospect by 247 Sports, the junior quarterback wasted little time getting the Knights (3-1) back on track after a heartbreaking loss at ThunderRidge last week — landing a perfect spiral into the hands of Blackburn for a 36-yard score on Fairiview's first play from scrimmage.
The two later linked up on scores of 44 and 6 yards to put the Knights firmly in command at half, 28-7. Atkinson then added TD tosses to Bryce DesJardins, Devynn Holly and Matt Greenwald in the third quarter to put into effect the state's 40-point mercy rule with 4:11 left in the quarter.
"We were really sad about last week," Blackburn said. "We wanted to make up for it. We were fired up."
Despite sitting out the final quarter, Atkinson finished with six touchdowns and 394 yards through the air, giving him a state-best 18 TDs and 1,468 yards through four games this season. Blackburn added 115 receiving yards and Greenwald had 125.
For a passing attack that sputtered in the second half against the Grizzlies and fumbled away a chance for a go-ahead touchdown near the goal line in the waning minutes, this was much needed.
"We're a passing team. That's our identity," Fairview coach Tom McCartney said. "We got knocked down last week, and this was the game next on the schedule and we had to get back up."
Fairview scored less than two minutes in on Atkinson's picture-perfect pass to Blackburn, and another score was set up on a highlight-reel pass-and catch between Atkinson and Greenwald on the quarterback's third attempt. Greenwald was well covered on the throw, but 6-foot-2 senior proved limber as he slid sideways onto the turf to scoop the pass. Two plays later, Holly ran in for a 2-yard score.
Later in the half, the Knights answered a Doherty TD with a nine-play, 68-yard drive in the final minutes when Atkinson found Blackburn open in the middle of the field for the score with 54 seconds remaining.
After the break, Atkinson threw his fourth and fifth TDs of the night in the first 4:16 of the third. He then found Greenwald for a 14-yard touchdown for his sixth a few minutes later, ending his night.
Atkinson wasn't worried about stats afterward. Just the win.
"We just got to keep working," Atkinson said. "And hopefully we'll win the state championship."
Brent W. New: email@example.com and @brentwnew
Fairview 49, Doherty 14
At Christian Recht FieldDoherty (0-4)0707—14Fairview (3-1)217210—49
First quarterFairview — Fairview — Fairview —
Doherty — Gage Vanaman 2 run (Gaboric Decker kick). Fairview — Blackburn 6 pass from Atkinson (Blackburn kick).
Fairview — Bryce DesJardins 15 pass from Atkinson (Blackburn kick). Fairview — Holly 13 pass from Atkinson (Blackburn kick). Fairview — Matt Greenwald 14 pass from Atkinson (Blackburn kick).
Doherty — Brandon Walker 20 run (Decker kick).
RUSHING — Doherty: Brandon Becker 15-66, Brian Mosley 12-53, Gage Vanaman 11-17, Brandon Walker 5-66. Fairview: Devynn Holly 5-6, Aidan Atkinson 3-(minus-30), Bryce DesJardins 2-15, Adam Moser 1-5, Liam O'Brien 1-(minus-7).
PASSING — Doherty: Becker 6-19-0-80. Fairview: Atkinson 25-42-6-394, O'Brien 1-3-0-8.
RECEIVING — Doherty: Vanaman 2-57, Jared Smits 2-19, Jaquay Seawright 1-4, CJ Puleo 1-0. Fairview: Ashton Nichols 7-58, Matt Greenwald 6-125, Henry Blackburn 6-115, Holly 3-52, DesJardins 3-44, Alex Kang 1-8.