Team victory: Fort Frye tops Frontier, 32-20, in key PVC game

NEW MATAMORAS – It all came down to one play.

Fort Frye had the ball on Frontier’s 35 yard line up 26-20 and facing a 4th-and-6 situation with 1:18 remaining in the fourth quarter.

The Cougars needed a stop, while the Cadets were looking to clinch the victory.

Fort Frye head coach Eric Huck, wisely, put the ball in quarterback Chandler Lang’s hands. Rolling out to his right on a bootleg, Lang realized Frontier had all the gaps closed, but noticed one of his teammates, Zach Prichard, standing alone in the end-zone. Lang fired a strike to Prichard for the touchdown to crush the hopes of the Cougars and send the Cadet fans home happy with a 32-20 win.

“It was supposed to be a comeback (route),” Prichard said of the final scoring play. “I told Chandler to run if it was open, but the corner back came up so I decided to try and float back. Chan saw me, good field vision, and sealed it off.”

Lang said everyone did their part in contribution to the W.

“I thought the team did a good job digging down deep in a close game,” said the senior signal-caller.

“Our running backs did a good job hitting the holes hard and the line did a good job. It was an all-around team victory.”

Fort Frye took advantage of five turnovers by Frontier, two of which came in the Cougars’ first two offensive series, to build an early 19-0 lead in the first quarter.

“Too many errors on our part,” said Frontier head coach Todd Bradford. “Sometimes we just make mistakes, and that cost us. We gave them short field starting right out so the momentum was on their side the whole first half so we’re trying to play catch-up.

“We just didn’t make enough big plays and do enough things in our favor to get things done. You’ve got to tip your hat to Fort Frye. They played well and executed well.”

The Cadets recovered a fumble on the first play from scrimmage in the game, giving them the ball at the Frontier 35. Rushes of 11 yards by Lang and 10 yards by Derek Layton set up Layton’s 1-yard touchdown run just three minutes into the game. Prichard’s kick made it 7-0.

Frontier lost another fumble on its ensuing possession, which led to a 39-yard touchdown pass from Lang to Prichard, the first of two scores the duo would connect on, to give Fort Frye a 13-0 lead before the Cougars could blink.

Frontier was able to hold onto the ball on its next two drives, but was forced to punt both times.

Late in the opening quarter, Lang returned a punt all the way to Frontier’s 39 yard line. Lang would end up capping that drive with an 18-yard touchdown run to make it a three-score game at 19-zip.

Frontier, now with the ball, was glad to see the first quarter come to and end and the second begin.

Carries of 15 and 13 yards by quarterback Mitch Reynolds brought the ball to the Fort Frye 25. Howell would carry it the rest of the way, as rushes of 19, five and finally one yard put the ball across the goal-line. Frontier’s two-point try was no good, making it a 19-6 ball game.

Following that score, it was Fort Frye who couldn’t take care of the ball. On a 2nd-and-10 play from the Frontier 49, Lang had the ball knocked out of his hand and right into the arms of Cole Petty, who ran it 51 yards for a Cougar touchdown.

Again, the two-point conversion attempt was unsuccessful, but now it was a six-point game with Fort Frye up 19-12, which was the score at halftime.

The second half began almost the exact same way the first half did. On Frontier’s first possession of the third quarter, a hand-off was botched and recovered by Layton at the Cougars’ 19 yard line.

Once again, the Cadets made the Cougars pay for a turnover, as a 15-yard run by Layton set up Lang’s 3-yard carry into the end-zone. Prichard tacked on the extra point to make the score 26-12.

Down two touchdowns, Frontier got the ball at its own 17 and went back to work. A Howell 15-yard run put the ball at the 32. Three plays later, on 4th-and-3, Rodney Barnes scampered for a 9-yard gain to get to midfield. A 9-yard pass from Reynolds to Nick Camino followed by a 12-yard run from Barnes gave the Cougars 1st-and-10 at the Fort Frye 29.

Two plays later, Dakota Welker took a hand-off and got the edge on the left side before cutting back to the middle of the field for a 21-yard touchdown.

Reynolds then hit Dylan Absher on a slant route for the two-point conversion, making it 26-20.

Overall, the 83-yard touchdown drive chewed up five minutes and 16 seconds off the clock.

The Frontier defense then got a big stop to force the Cadets into a punt. Lang booted a nice ball to the 11, where Frontier’s next drive began.

Led by a 20-yard run from Barnes, the Cougars drove all the way to the Cadets’ 34 yard line before a delay of game penalty and a sack of Reynolds by Layton forced them to punt it away.

Barnes punted it to the 19, but a kick-catching interference call on Frontier moved the ball to Fort Frye’s own 35 with just over six minutes left in the contest.

On a 3rd-and-4 at their own 41, the Cadets got a big first down on a 9-yard pass from Lang to Colten Shuster.

Fort Frye would pick up another first down before facing a 4th-and-1 situation at the Frontier 30 with 1:18 left. The crowd erupted when Fort Frye committed a false start penalty to move it back five yards, but in the end it didn’t matter as Lang found Prichard in the end-zone for the dagger.

“Frontier, they are a skilled football team,” said Fort Frye head coach Eric Huck.

“They have players that can make plays. Hats off to them. They played a hard-fought football game.

“I was proud to see, with all the highs and lows in the game, their turnovers, our turnovers, back and forth, that when it came down to it at the end, we were able to overcome those and make plays when we needed to to get the win.”

Fort Frye improved to 5-1 overall and 2-1 in the Pioneer Valley Conference with the win. Frontier fell to 3-3 overall and 1-2 in the PVC.

Fort Frye returns home next week, after five consecutive road games, to host Buckeye Trail, while Frontier will be on the road facing Caldwell.