Not Done Yet: With Lincoln under their belt, Frankfort heads to Poca

Chapin Jewell
Mineral Daily News-Tribune
Frankfort's Peyton Clark scored two first half touchdowns as Frankfort built an early lead, saw it disappear, and then came back to win their opening round playoff game at Lincoln 21-17.

SHINNSTON - Frankfort coach Kevin Whiteman is clear every year on the goals of the Frankfort football program, “We want to have a winning record, win the Mineral Bowl, make the playoffs, and win once we get there.” If those are the goals, and they were fully satisfied with the Falcons’ 21-17 playoff victory at Lincoln on Friday.

But they aren’t done yet. As a 13 seed who toppled a 4 seed, Frankfort will now travel to 5 seed Poca on Saturday, November 20, at 1:30 p.m. for second round playoff action. The Dots were a 28-6 victor over 12 seed Liberty Raleigh, also on Friday.

As for Frankfort’s 21-17 victory over Lincoln, it’s a story best told in three chapters.

Chapter One: Frankfort gains an early 14-0 lead

In chapter one, Frankfort is impressive early and races out to a 14-0 lead over Lincoln that lasts until almost halftime.

It started on the Falcons’ first drive, the opening drive of the game in fact. Frankfort took the ball and ran it right down Lincoln’s throat, punctuating with a 39-yard touchdown run by Peyton Clark. Joel Myers’ extra point kick gave the Falcons a 7-0 lead with 8:33 remaining in the first quarter.

After shutting Lincoln completely down on defense, the Falcons got the ball back and went right back to the running game. With 2:34 remaining in the first quarter, Peyton Clark struck again, this time from 10 yards out. Another kick by Myers gave Frankfort a 14-0 lead.

“We overcame a ton of adversity tonight. In the first quarter, we were lights out, we played great, then everything fell apart after that. All the penalties. I’m disappointed with some of the penalties, I’m not going to lie, Whiteman stated.

That brings us to chapter two.

Chapter two: Lincoln scores 17 unanswered points to take the lead

Chapter two begins with a controversial call, the first of a few more to come. With 48 seconds remaining in the first half, Lincoln attempts a field goal and has it blocked. Frankfort ball, right?

Wrong. The officials conferenced and ultimately determined that as the result of an inadvertent whistle, Lincoln could line up and kick it again. They did, and this time, the Cougars’ Liam Gallegher put it through the uprights from 25 yards out. The Falcons’ lead had been cut to 14-3 entering the half.

Quarter three and the start of the fourth quarter belonged entirely to Lincoln as the Cougars would score two touchdowns to take a 17-14 lead. With 8:52 to go in the third frame Lincoln quarterback Nick Keller connected with John Lopez on a nine-yard scoring strike. Less than a minute into the fourth quarter, Keller again hit Lopez, this time from 25 yards out. Gallegher’s second extra point of the game gave Lincoln the 17-14 lead.

If Frankfort dominated chapter one, Lincoln clearly dominated chapter two. What was the difference?

“Penalties. The penalties killed us. I don’t know how many penalties we had, but it absolutely killed us. It was flag after flag after flag. We can’t do that. Last week, in our game, we battled through adversity, but we didn’t have a bunch of penalties,” Whiteman explained.

According to Whiteman, “Tonight, those penalties just killed us, they put us in second and thirty and bad situations, putting us behind the chains, and we can’t do that with our offense. We don’t have the ability to make those big plays.”

“But, we kept battling, that’s the important thing. I’ve been preaching to them about being relentless warriors, and that’s what we were tonight,” Whiteman explained.

That brings us to chapter three.

Chapter three: Frankfort overtakes the lead and holds on for victory

In chapter three, Frankfort takes back a 21-17 lead with a late touchdown and holds on to preserve the four-point victory, battling both Lincoln and some untimely penalties in the process.

It all began with a pass play, a timely 32-yard connection between quarterback Luke Robinette and receiver John Anderson III that took the ball down to Lincoln’s 17-yard line. Five rushing plays later, and Parker VanMeter dove across the goal line from three yards out. With 6:19 to go in the contest, VanMeter’s touchdown and Myers’ kick put Frankfort up 21-17 for good.

Offensively, Frankfort did the bulk of their damage with a punishing ground attack, with one key pass play sparking the deciding touchdown in the fourth quarter. Defensively, Frankfort posted an impressive bookend-type of performance, starting the game and ending the game impressively.

“We were aggressive. I’ve got to give my coaches credit, they always have a great game plan. We bent a lot tonight, we bent a ton, but we didn’t break and that was the key.” Whiteman stated.

How big was that pass play?

According to Whiteman, “That pass play was huge. I had my fingers crossed and Luke made a nice play, and John Anderson III made a nice play on the ball.

Summarizing Frankfort’s winning performance

Aiding Frankfort’s week one playoff performance against Lincoln is that fact that the Falcons have really been in playoff mode for two weeks now. Their final regular season game, a 41-35 overtime victory over Keyser, was a play-in game essentially, definitely one with a playoff feel.

“That’s huge. That game last week was like a playoff game for us, and it definitely helps, for sure in those pressure situations, and we had them last week where we had to keep battling and fighting through adversity,” Whiteman explained.

According to Whiteman, “The tide would turn, just like it did tonight, and they kept battling. That’s what we told them at halftime, we can’t quit, you never know what’s going to happen, and it paid off tonight,” Whiteman explained.

On to next week

Frankfort’s Mineral Bowl victory over Keyser gave what had been a slipping Falcons’ squad a great deal of momentum, On top of that game, now add a first round playoff victory in which Frankfort, a 13 seed, knocked off a 4 seed Lincoln squad on the road. The quality of Frankfort’s winning play the last two weeks can’t be discounted.

“I hope we’re a team to be reckoned with. It’s going to be tough. I know Poca has a good team, I heard they were winning 28-0. But we’re excited to be able to move on to the second round. It’s great for our team and our program, it’s good for the community, and I’m excited for everyone,” Whiteman detailed.