Frankfort comes back from 13-0 to sink Jefferson 28-19

Staff Writer
Mineral Daily News-Tribune
Cole Hiett (21) carries the ball past some Jefferson players as the Falcons battled it out in Shenandoah Junction Friday.

By Chapin Jewell

Tribune Correspondent

SHENANDOAH JUNCTION - From a player’s perspective, high school football is most certainly a game of emotions. From a coach’s perspective, high school football is most certainly a game of adjustments, particularly those made at halftime.

On Friday night, trailing home-standing Jefferson 7-0 at halftime on the road in Shenandoah Junction, the Frankfort Falcons, players and coaches alike, masterfully utilized improved player emotions and halftime coaching adjustments to pull off what at halftime seemed unlikely, a 28-19 come-from-behind victory.

To understand what was accomplished in the second half, it’s important to set the stage for what had transpired in the game’s first half. While Frankfort was only trailing 7-0 at the mid-point, the reality is that they could very well have been down 21-0, by three scores, if not for solid play from their defense.

While Jefferson did indeed notch a five-yard scoring strike to account for their points on the scoreboard, they also had the ball at the Frankfort five-yard line before throwing an interception. On another occasion, the Cougars had the ball fourth and goal from the Falcons’ one yard before being turned away. It could have been worse.

While the Frankfort defense came up big, keeping the Falcons in the game early, offensively, the Columbia Blue and Silver were struggling. With Jefferson stacking the box, Frankfort’s normally robust rushing attack just couldn’t get going. It was hard to get to the outside, it was hard to get a push while running inside.

Frankfort radio announcer Tony Orndoff was direct at halftime in stating the following, “They’ll have to figure something out here, because right now, at 7-0, they haven’t really even been close to even being in scoring position, let alone scoring.”

“We’re very fortunate it is only seven to zip, it could be 21 to zip. We’re in this football game, and Frankfort was in the halftime room for a long time, and I’m sure they made a number of adjustments, and we’ll just see what happens here in the second half. This young group, I’m telling you, they’re fighters, and we’ll see what happens here in the second half,” Frankfort radio announcer Bill Cessna proclaimed.

Unfortunately for Frankfort, things didn’t improve immediately as the second half began. Jefferson drove the ball on their opening possession of the second half all the way to the end zone to take a 13-0 lead. Things got even worse when Jefferson pinned the Falcons down on the their own three-yard line on the ensuing possession.

Then the adjustments kicked in.

Facing a third down and six from their own seven-yard line, Falcon quarterback Colton MacTaggart pulled off a perfectly executed and well-timed 44-yard catch and run pass to tight end Brock Robinette. A roughing the passer penalty and successful run took Frankfort down to the Jefferson five-yard line. Two plays later, McTaggart plunged in from the two-yard line and with Corey Brieloff’s kick, Frankfort was on the board, trailing 13-7.

“How about that 90-some yard drive, that was beautiful.  We hit that big pop pass, and we told them at halftime, we saw some things. Thank God for halftime, we had that IPad going, and we saw some things,” Frankfort coach Kevin Whiteman stated.  “We narrowed it down to probably three plays, and I had about four pass plays I thought we could hit, and that’s all we used in the second half and it was effective and we won the game.”

That first score would be first of what would ultimately turn into 28 unanswered points as the Falcons assumed a 28-13 lead heading into the final minute of the game.

After bringing the game to 13-7, Frankfort forced a Jefferson punt and resumed possession at their own 24-yard line. Another huge pass play, this time from McTaggart to Peyton Clark, good for 57 yards, took the ball to the Jefferson two-yard line. On the next play, Jansen Moreland punched it in from the two, Brieloff’s kick put Frankfort ahead 14-13 with 19 seconds left in the third frame, and they never looked back.

Peyton Clark came up huge for the Falcons five plays later, intercepting a Cougar pass and racing 50 yards to the end zone with 10:37 to go in the contest to propel Frankfort to a 21-13 lead.

With 2:31 remaining in the game, Cole Hiett’s short yardage touchdown propelled the Falcons to a 28-13 lead.  Jefferson would muster a score with 40 seconds remaining in the game as Sam Roberts hit Caysen Lanza on a five-yard scoring strike to cut the Frankfort lead to 28-19.  The Falcons’ recovery of the ensuing onside kick sealed the dramatic, 28-19 comeback victory for the visitors.

“I gotta say one thing, how about those Frankfort Falcons, that’s awesome. That was a great team effort, a great win.  I can’t say enough about the second half,” Whiteman exclaimed.

According to Whiteman, “It was once again a team effort, and they need to embrace that team effort every week. I was very concerned at halftime, you could see our kid’s demeanor. I said it’s 7-0, you have a good football team, and we were just flat, I was very concerned about how we were going to come out in the second half. I can’t tell you how proud I am of them, that was beautiful.”

Whiteman asserted that in the first half, a surprise of sorts from the Jefferson coaching staff resulted in some problems for the Frankfort offense early.

“I credit Jefferson’s coaches. We practiced a 4-2-5 the whole week, and they came out in that 6-2, and they were just grabbing us, and holding on, and their linebackers were scraping and making plays. Our attack was basically outside, any success we had was outside, and those few passes we hit.”

Those few passes, along with Frankfort’s stellar defensive performance, were huge keys to the Falcon win, and the result of adjustments made by the Falcon coaching staff.  

“It’s amazing over time as a coach what you can see.  When we were in wing, the free safety was staying in the middle of the field. When we were in ace, he was moving over to the double wing side, which was taking our halfback seam pass away. I told Jimmy Jones, when we’re in wing, he’s over by the tight end side, we can run the halfback seam pass out of the wing, and bam, it was wide open, it was beautiful, Whiteman stated.

The gut check moment of the game came after Jefferson scored to go up 13-0 two minutes into the second half. It was do or die time, and the Falcons responded appropriately.

“I told them, we need a score right now, we can’t wait. I talked to them about the calm before the storm, and we need to unleash the storm right now. I told them we need to score now or it’s going to be over. They just did so much better in the second half with their emotions and their drive and their passion to win the game, it was awesome to watch, Whiteman stated.

Jefferson led in total offense 336 yards compared to Frankfort’s 304. The Cougars passed for 272 yards compared to 102 for Frankfort. Frankfort outgained Jefferson on the ground 202 yards to 95.  

In the only statistic that matters, the score board read Frankfort 28, Jefferson 19.

Frankfort (5-0) will travel back to Jefferson County Friday at 7 p.m. to take on Washington (2-3) in Charles Town.

jake Clark holds the ball while Corey Brieloff kicks a PAT against Jefferson in Shenendoah Junction.
Tribune photo by Lee Brown/knobley.com