Heartbreaker: Fort Frye drops tough one in state semis
ZANESVILLE — In racking up 10 consecutive wins heading into Saturday night’s Division VI Ohio State semi-final at Zanesville High School, finishing had not been a problem at all for the Fort Frye Cadets.
Fort Frye was able to move the ball like they had all season Saturday but their inability to finish drives eventually did them in as they fell to the Springfield Tigers 16-13 in heart breaking fashion at John D. Sulsberger Stadium.
The Cadets had four shots with the ball inside the Tigers’ 10-yard line in the closing minute of the game but were unable to get the ball into the end zone as they ran out of downs and time.
“I thought we were the better team tonight and we certainly had our chances,” said Fort Frye head coach Eric Huck.
“We weren’t able to score at the end of the first half or at the end of the game, and that cost us.”
The Tigers wasted little time making a statement to open the game as they took just four plays to march 65 yards with senior Austin Tindell rambling into the end zone on a 31-yard run to take an early 7-0 lead.
Fort Frye came up empty on their first possession of the night but after exchanging punts with the Tigers, they began to show some life offensively.
The Cadets used a 55-yard, 10-play drive capped by a two-yard run from junior Maeson Long to tie the game at 7-7 on the first play of the second quarter.
Springfield answered as Tindell’s second touchdown run of the opening half put them back in front by six after the Cadets managed to block the extra point attempt.
The Fort took over possession of the ball with a little over six minutes to play in the half and methodically moved the ball into the red zone keyed by a perfect four-for-four passing performance by junior quarterback Ian Ellis.
A 16-yard pass from Ellis to sophomore Owen Brown moved the ball to the two-yard line in the closing seconds of the half where the Tiger defense came up with a huge stop on Fort Frye senior Brian Adkins as he tried to power his way into the end zone as time expired.
The Cadets had the ball to open the second half and they quickly went to work when Long broke free on an 88-yard run before being tackled from behind at the two-yard line.
Ellis powered his way into the end zone on the next play for the two-yard touchdown before the Cadets gambled and lost on the point after attempt.
Zaiden Huck’s kick was no good but the Cadets got a bit of a break when Springfield drew a penalty giving the Cadets another shot a yard closer to the goal line.
The Cadets elected to change their mind and go for two only to be stopped just short of the goal line to keep the game tied at 13-13.
The Tigers moved the ball into Cadet territory on their next drive but the Fort got outstanding defensive tackles in the open field by seniors Damian Huck and Jaymison Baker forcing the Tigers to turn the ball over on downs.
The Cadets put together a patented 14-play drive that chewed up plenty of clock as they were able to move the ball into the red-zone only to see their drive stall once again.
Facing a fourth-and-nine at the 13-yard line the Cadets elected to go for a field goal but the 30-yard attempt by Ellis was well short leaving the score tied and the ball back in possession of the Tigers.
Springfield mirrored the Cadets last drive as they took possession of the ball at their own 20-yard line and promptly used more than seven minutes of time to move the ball all the way down to the Cadet two-yard line with just over five minutes to play in the game.
The Tiger drive stalled and they faced a fourth-and-goal at the two.
Springfield took a delay of game penalty which appeared to be on purpose to give kicker Clayton Medvec a little more space and the senior came through in the clutch as he drilled a 24-yard field goal to push the Tigers back in front by three with just over five minutes to play in the game.
A pair of runs by Long netted 15-yards and got the Cadets off to a great start on what they hoped would be a game-winning drive and moments later Ellis gained three yards on a fourth and one to move the ball into Tiger territory.
A nine-yard run by Long and a 17-yard pass from Ellis to Baker moved the ball to the 26-yard line where a six-yard run by Brian Adkins and a 10-yard run by Long moved the ball to the 10-yard line with just over a minute to play.
Ellis had to throw a ball away to avoid a sack on first down and after Long gained four yards on a sweep to move the ball to the six, a pass from Ellis was just out of the reach of a leaping Long in the endzone to bring up fourth down.
With the game clock ticking down to less than 10 seconds Ellis hit Long in the flat but the Tiger defense sniffed out the play and brought Long down two-yards short of the end zone to bring a crushing end to an incredible season for the Cadets.
Huck was pleased with the way his defense played as they limited a Tiger team that had scored less than 30 points just once in their ten previous games to a pair of touchdowns and a field goal.
“Our defense stepped up and held them to 16 points which is usually good enough to win,” said Huck, whose team gained 101 more total yards than did the Tigers. “We moved the ball very well but just weren’t able to get it in those three times.”
Quarterback Beau Brungard led the way for the winners with 56 yards rushing on 12 carries while completing 13-of-17 pass attempts for 151 yards.
Long led the Cadets with 130 yards rushing on just 10 touches while Ellis completed 12-of-16 passes for 118 yards, including three pass receptions each to Baker, Brown and Nic Hart.
The loss was a painful one for the Cadets whose season comes to a close with a 10-1 mark but it doesn’t put a damper on another incredible season of Fort Frye football.
“This is a special group no doubt and I fell like we should be playing in the state championship game next week,” said Huck, whose senior class of 12 lost just five times in their four year varsity careers. “Great kids with great senior kids leading and they all fight and play so hard…. We’ve worked so hard all year and even though it hurts they need look back and remember how great this season was.”