SHORT GAP - It was a game billed as a contest that was sure to be a crowd pleaser, and to that end, it delivered. Of course, just how pleased you were when you walked out of Falcon Stadium Friday night depended mightily on which side of the field you were sitting on.

By Chapin Jewell
Tribune Correspondent
SHORT GAP - It was a game billed as a contest that was sure to be a crowd pleaser, and to that end, it delivered. Of course, just how pleased you were when you walked out of Falcon Stadium Friday night depended mightily on which side of the field you were sitting on.  
For the homestanding Frankfort crowd, two big plays each by Nick Marley and Peyton Shanholtz delivered a Falcon victory that was well-earned and highly desired. With the victory, Frankfort not only snapped a four-game losing streak against Mountain Ridge, but are projected to have propelled themselves from tied for 13th to sole possession of ninth place in the West Virginia class AA playoff ratings; a big leap.
“It was a nice win for us, we really wanted this one. We had a pretty good week of practice, but yesterday, I had to show myself a little bit after practice, but we just needed to refocus,” a satisfied Frankfort coach Kevin Whiteman said after the game.
According to Whiteman, “We came out ready to play tonight, and you could tell by the way they played. They played with heart and emotion; the way we blocked, the way we ran with the running backs, all of them ran hard with good leg drive. They played good solid defense against us but we kept battling back.”
It was a game jam-packed full of big plays but there were four plays that stick out the most, including Peyton Shanholtz’s 29-yard touchdown reception to open the scoring and Shanholtz’ 80-yard interception return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.  Add to that list 67 and 66-yard touchdown runs by Nick Marley, one each in the second in the fourth quarters.
After each team forced the other to punt on their respective first possessions, next came a Mountain Ridge fumble recovery and a blocked kick from Frankfort. Plenty of action, but no scoring early.  
That all changed when the Falcons began to grind out a lengthy, 22-play drive. The drive was capped off by Jansen Knotts finding Peyton Shanholtz for a 29-yard touchdown reception. With Brady Aldridge’s kick, the Falcons struck first and earned a 7-0 lead.
After Jeff McKenzie brought the kickoff out to the 39-yard line of Mountain Ridge, the Miners went to work on a scoring drive of their own. Seven plays later, Devin Lissau found the endzone from 10 yards out; Ashton Shimko’s kick tied the game at 7-7 with 7:35 remaining in the first half.
On the first play from scrimmage on the next drive, Marley moved left, slipped through the grasp of Mountain Ridge’s Tre Smith, and darted 67 yards to the endzone to, along with Aldridge’s kick, put the Falcons on top 14-7 with 7:17 remaining in the half.
In keeping with the theme of action and big plays, next came back to back interceptions, one from Frankfort’s Andy Westfall followed by another from Mountain Ridge’s Collin Lowry.
Lowry’s interception would ultimately lead to Ashton Shimko attempting a 37 yard kick in the waning seconds of the first half. The kick was no good, and the teams went into the locker rooms with Frankfort leading 14-7.
Midway through the third quarter, Mountain Ridge went on a nearly 7-minute, 15-play drive, capped off with a three-yard touchdown run from Jeff McKenzie. With Shimko’s kick, the Miners tied the Falcons at 14 points apiece with 11 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
Three minutes later, with 9:59 remaining in the contest, Nick Marley put the Falcons back on top after taking the ball 66 yards to pay dirt, a run almost identical to his 67-yard touchdown earlier. With the Aldridge kick, Frankfort was back on top 21-14.  
Mountain Ridge immediately went to work on a long drive in an effort to tie the game. After running nearly five minutes off the clock, the Miners’ efforts were thwarted on the deciding play of the game, an 80-yard interception return for a touchdown by Peyton Shanholtz.  Shanholtz’s score with Aldridge’s kick extended the Frankfort lead to 28-14 with four and a half minutes remaining in the game.
“You can’t say enough about Peyton Shanholtz; he’s very selfless, plays his tail off in every phase of the game, goes one hundred miles per hour on every play.  He’s just a phenomenal football player,” Whiteman said after the contest.
JJ Blank would tack on another Frankfort touchdown, a 17-yard score to put the Falcons up 35-14. Bryce Snyder would find Devin Lissau for a 27-yard touchdown pass for Mountain Ridge to close out the scoring, giving Frankfort the 35-14 victory.
Mountain Ridge actually slightly edged the Falcons in total offense, 310 yards to 297. The Miners rushed for 203 yards on 49 carries and passed for an additional 107 yards on nine receptions. Mountain Ridge threw two interceptions.
Frankfort rushed for 263 yards on 36 rushes and passed for an additional 34 yards, for a total of 297 yards. The Falcons committed three turnovers.
Nick Marley led the Falcon rushing attack with 195 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries, an average of 13 yards per carry; JJ Blank was next with 34 rushing yards and one touchdown on six carries; Jansen Moreland rushed five times for 18 yards; Peyton Shanholtz had 13 yards on seven carries; Jansen Knotts rushed twice for four yards.
Through the air, Knotts completed two of four passes for 34 yards and one touchdown. That touchdown reception went to Peyton Shanholtz, the Falcons’ leading receiver with one catch for 29 yards. Brock Robinette had Frankfort’s other reception for five yards.
Defensively, the Falcons were led by Jansen Moreland with eight tackles, Greg McCoy was next with six tackles; Peyton Shanholtz had five tackles and an interception return for a touchdown; Connor Parish and Jake Clark each had four tackles; David Blanco added three tackles; Andy Westfall contributed an interception.
Jeff Mckenzie led Mountain Ridge in rushing with 68 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown; Devin Lissau added 63 yards on 17 carries and a touchdown. Lissau also caught a 27-yard touchdown pass.  Bryce Snyder was nine for 19 passing for Mountain Ridge for 107 yards.
With the loss, Mountain Ridge drops to 2-3 on the season.  The Miners will next host University (2-4) on Friday.
The victory propels Frankfort to a record of 5-1 on the season. The Falcons will next host Washington on Friday, on Homecoming night in Short Gap.
In addition, it’s projected that the victory will lift Frankfort from tied for 13th in the West Virginia class AA playoff ratings into sole possession of the ninth spot.  Frankfort has also re-entered the West Virginia MetroNews Power Ratings in the tenth position.
Friday night’s battle between Frankfort and Mountain Ridge fit the mold of the games in this rivalry, which generally are close and tightly contested. With the victory, Frankfort snapped Mountain Ridge’s four-game win streak in the series, positioned themselves significantly better with respect to playoff aspirations, and increased their momentum heading down the home stretch of the regular season.