Frankfort out rides Weir Red Riders 37-26 in home opener
By Chapin Jewell
SHORT GAP - Friday night was a very productive and successful night in Short Gap. First, it was announced that the Miss Falcon contestants had raised a jaw-dropping $ 130,000 over the summer for the athletic programs at Frankfort. Second, being the first home game, the Falcon Band and Cheerleaders made their debut. Third, Frankfort avenged last year’s overtime defeat to Weir by a score of 37-26 and advanced to 2-0 on the young season.
“It was a nice, beautiful evening out here. The band was here, they couldn’t play during the game, but they were able to play the fight song when we scored. It was a good night, it was a lot of fun being back here at home and having who we could have here, it was nice,” Frankfort coach Kevin Whiteman explained.
Frankfort and Weir would play nearly one and a third quarters of scoreless football with neither team having any offensive success. That was a credit to both defenses for a solid performance early on, but also attributed to just a sluggish performance offensively for both the Falcons and Red Riders.
“I just felt like we came out flat and I don’t think the kids had much enthusiasm,” Whiteman stated. “I thought during warmups that we would be fine. But, I just felt like in the first half we were sluggish, we weren’t getting off the ball like we needed to. We weren’t staying with our blocks. It was an ugly first half offensively. I thought the defense did a nice job.”
The stalemate was finally broken as Weir lined up at their own 32-yard line to punt, the seventh straight punt after the opening kickoff for both teams. The snap sailed over the head of Weir punter Gage Reitter, who managed to scoop up the ball at the four-yard line and get to the 12 before being wrapped up and rolled out of bounds by Falcon junior Peyton Clark.
Logan Kinser immediately took the ball 11 yards to the one-yard line. From there, Frankfort fullback Jansen Moreland punched it in off the right tackle for his third touchdown of the season. Corey Brieloff’s extra point put Frankfort up 7-0 with 9:20 to go in the half.
Weir would be forced to punt on their next possession and the Falcons resumed possession from their own 22-yard line. After an incomplete pass on first down, Frankfort went to the air again, this time, however, the results were much worse than an incompletion.
After being tipped at the line of scrimmage, the ball was intercepted by Weir’s Jayden Anderson who caught it in stride and went untouched off the left side into the endzone to tie the score 7-7 with 6:33 to go in the half.
After a Frankfort punt on the next possession, Weir began a march down the field. The march was stopped, however, as Andrew Westfall intercepted a Red Riders’ pass at the Frankfort 25-yard line. Frankfort would cross midfield, reaching the Weir 46-yard line before the halftime buzzer sounded.
If the first half was relatively void of offensive production and points, the second half would be the polar opposite. A combined 14-first half points would give way to a points extravaganza in the second as Frankfort outpaced the Red Riders 30-19 to claim the 37-26 victory.
According to Whiteman, “We made some good adjustments at halftime. I thought our third quarter was beautiful. But then, we self-destructed so many times. We can’t be turning the ball over. We just can’t be doing stupid things if we want to win football games.”
Frankfort set the tone immediately on the first possession after the break. Out of a full house backfield, Frankfort sophomore Parker Vanmeter exploded into the endzone off the left side from seven yards out to put the Falcons on top 14-7. Vanmeter’s scored capped off a 10-play, 64- yard drive to begin the second half.
On the next possession, Brock Robinette and Logan Kinser halted a 4th and two attempt by Weir at the Falcon 42-yard line to give the Falcons the ball back. On the fifth play of Frankfort’s ensuing drive, Andrew Westfall raced 38 yards down the right sideline untouched to pay dirt. With the extra point no good, the Falcons upped their lead to 20-7 with 3:46 remaining in the third.
Weir would score on a 23-yard pass from Anthony DiMatteis to Gage Reitter to cut the Frankfort lead to seven (20-13). One play after blocking the extra point, Frankfort’s Peyton Clark then took the ensuing kickoff 86-yards to the finish line. Brieloff’s kick extended the Falcon lead to 14 points (27-13) late in the third frame.
The Falcons’ next score would come on a 21-yard field goal by Corey Brieloff to give Frankfort their biggest lead of the game, 17 points (30-13), with 10:25 to go in the game. Brieloff’s field goal came about after Frankfort’s Taylor Miller intercepted a Weir pass deep in Red Riders’ territory.
Feeling pretty good at that point, the Falcons would have to watch as within two minutes and twenty-two seconds, Weir would trim that 17-point Frankfort lead to four points (30-26) with two quick touchdowns.
Weir’s two “comeback” touchdowns came on an 18-yard run off the right side by Jamari Bass and a 34-yard scamper by quarterback Anthony DiMatteis, the latter coming just one play after a Falcon fumble. Frankfort’s Brock Robinette blocked the extra point, keeping Weir at bay by a four-point margin.
“When they got to within four (30-26), I was starting to get concerned. We were getting worn down, we have a lot of kids that play both ways, and it was a hot, muggy evening. I was highly concerned, I didn’t know if we were going to be able to hold on,” Whiteman explained.
According to Whiteman, “I told them during a couple timeouts, it’s going to come down to who wants it and who has the most heart. That interception that (Andrew) Westfall had at the end really sealed the deal.”
The Westfall interception Whiteman references, his second of the game, came after Parker Vanmeter’s bullish 20-yard touchdown run that saw him break one tackle, bounce off a second defender, and literally run over the third on his way to the endzone to put Frankfort up 37-26 for good.
Speaking of Westfall’s performance, Whiteman stated, “He had a good night. He’s a senior, he’s played a lot since he was a sophomore. He made some nice runs on offense. He had a couple interceptions. He has a lot of experience playing back there in the defensive secondary. I was proud of his performance.”
Weir outgained Frankfort by one yard on the ground (205 to 204) and 92 yards through the air (131-39). The difference maker, the only offensive statistic that matters, showed a 37-26 score advantage in favor of the Falcons, however.
Andrew Westfall led Frankfort on the ground with 65 yards and a touchdown, Jansen Moreland contributed 60 yards and a touchdown, Parker Vanmeter scored two touchdowns and gained 41 yards. Colton McTaggart went three for nine for 39 yards with Brock Robinette grabbing two of those receptions for 30 yards, and Jake Clark the other for nine yards.
With the victory, Frankfort gains revenge for the tough loss suffered at Weir last year and moves to 2-0 on the young season. The Falcons next travel to Berkeley Springs (0-2) to take in the Indians Friday, Sept. 18.