Frankfort claims 21-20 OT victory over top-rated Spring Mills
By Chapin Jewell
SHORT GAP - It was a play that will be remembered in and around Short Gap for many years to come. With Frankfort clinging to a 21-20 lead in overtime against the visiting Spring Mills Cardinals, the visitors from Berkeley County opted to go for two and the win, rather than kick the ball and force a second overtime.
Frankfort, needing a near perfect game to earn a victory over the Cardinals, had been near perfect up to this point, with the exception of a fumble that halted them on the opening drive of the game. Just one more perfect play was needed for Frankfort to topple Spring Mills, who at the time were ranked number one in the WVSSAC playoff ratings in class AAA. Just one more perfect play, and they did it!
All-everything Spring Mills quarterback Keon Padmore-Johnson took the snap from his shotgun position, rolled to the left, and was promptly wrapped up at the legs by Frankfort linemen Kyle Owens. Padmore-Johnson, while falling backwards and being taken to the ground by Owens, managed to somehow get the ball off, where it was promptly batted down by Falcon defender Andrew Westfall, sealing the memorable and significant, 21-20 victory in favor of the Falcons.
“It was Coach (Craig) Scott and the defensive coaches that made the call on what to defend in the timeout before that play, I was just saying ‘hang on for one more play, just fight for one more play,’ and they did. It was a great effort,” an ecstatic Frankfort head coach Kevin Whiteman proclaimed after the game.
It was the first time Frankfort had ever hosted, or even played for that matter, a AAA team rated number one in the WVSSAC playoff ratings. Frankfort entered the contest as 27.5-point underdog according to one media source.
“I’m so proud, I’m so proud of the team. You know our practices were a little sloppy this week, but tonight in the game, I was so proud of their effort. When we came in, we were major underdogs, they had a lot of athleticism, but the kids kept battling. I thought we should have won it in regulation, but it took us until overtime,” Whiteman stated.
According to Whiteman, “I’m just proud of their resiliency, and fighting through to get the win. This is one of my proudest moments as the coach at Frankfort, that was one of the biggest wins, a big overtime win, and I can’t say enough about the kids’ effort, I just can’t.”
Frankfort won the coin toss and elected to take the ball on offense first. Beginning from their own 40-yard line, the Falcons moved the ball to the Spring Mills 18-yard line before coughing it up on a fumble. Spring Mills drove 40-yards in 12 plays but the Falcon defense, coming up big on the first of many times on the night, forced a Spring Mills punt.
The Falcons assumed possession at their own 23-yard line. Five plays into the drive, and on the second play of the second quarter, Peyton Clark took the ball off the right side, made two cuts, then raced 42-yards for the first Falcon score of the night. It was the first of three touchdowns on the night for Clark. Corey Brieloff;s extra point gave the Falcons the 7-0 lead.
Spring Mills started their next drive at their own 25 and advance 71 yards all the way down to the Falcons’ four-yard line. On fourth and goal from the four, Padmore-Johnson rolled right and option-pitched the ball to Chase Henson, who couldn’t handle the pitch. Padmore-Johnson ultimately fell on the ball at the Frankfort 18-yard line where the Falcons resumed possession.
Seven plays later Frankfort punted. Spring Mills ran off one play and the first half ended with the Falcons in the lead 7-0.
The Cardinals wasted no time evening the score on the first drive off the second half. Spring Mills started the drive at their own 32-yard line, and on the eight play of the drive, Chase Henson plunged into the end zone from one-yard out. The kick tied the score at 7-7 with 8:52 remaining in the third quarter.
On the ensuing kickoff, Frankfort’s Andrew Westfall raced 44 yards all the way down to the Spring Mills 25-yard line on the return. On the fifth play of the drive, a perfectly executed, 23-yard “pop pass” from quarterback Colton McTaggart to Peyton Clark, along with Brieloff’s kick, put the Falcons up 14-7 with 5:48 remaining in the third frame.
On the next two possessions, Spring Mills and Frankfort would exchange punts. With 5:19 remaining in the contest, the Cardinals capped off a 10-play scoring drive as Padmore-Johnson hit Jacob McCarren on a 34-yard scoring strike. The kick tied the game at 14-14.
After another successful, 47-yard kickoff return by Westfall, Frankfort would ultimately advance to the Spring Mills 14-yard line where they were stopped on a fourth-down play with 1:18 remaining in the game. The Cardinals were unsuccessful with the ball and were forced to punt. Frankfort took possession at their own 42-yard line with 16 seconds remaining and would advance only to the Spring Mills 27 when time expired in regulation.
From there, it would be Clark’s overtime touchdown and a tremendous defensive effort from the whole team, but specifically Kyle Owens and Andrew Westfall’s halting of the Spring Mills two-point conversion play that delivered the 21-20 win for the Falcons.
Frankfort rushed for 228 yards in the contest, with Peyton Clark leading the way with 109 yards on 12 carries and two touchdowns. Jansen Moreland was next with 70 yards on 16 carries, followed by Parker Vanmeter with 49 yards on 10 rushes. The Falcons’ Colton McTaggart completed two of three passes for 33 yards, the biggest being the 23-yard touchdown completion to Peyton Clark.
Spring Mills accumulated 330 yards of total offense, with 207 coming on the ground and an additional 123 yards in the air. The entire Frankfort defense can be credited with an outstanding, bend but don’t break defensive performance.
“That was a great win. We told them before the game, just keep chipping away and chipping away, and I told them it was going to be a battle until the end. We kept chipping away and chipping away, and praise God, we pulled it off. That was a big win for us, a big win,” Whiteman stated.
According to Whiteman, “We played hard. I’m proud of the effort. I thought when we got down here in our short-yardage offense that we were going to punch it in. But luckily, were resilient, and we battled through the adversity, and won the game. That last two-point play was huge, huge.”
Frankfort (4-0), will next travel to Shenandoah Junction to take on Jefferson (1-2) on Friday, Oct. 2 at 7 p.m.