BEVERLY — The Fort Frye Cadets have plenty of offensive weapons, and the Nelsonville-York Buckeyes seemingly got a good look at all of them on Saturday.
The No. 1 Cadets powered their way to a 36-6 victory in a Division VI, Region 23 quaterfinal against No. 8 Nelsonville-York.
The Buckeyes had won eight games in a row, but saw their season end on Fort Frye’s home field.
“They’re so physical and they’re quick,” Nelsonville-York coach Rusty Richards said. “They don’t have the big 280-pound kids, but they’re all quick. They’re 220, 230 (pounds) — they run around like fullbacks. They’re so fast.”
Fort Frye (9-1) gained 481 yards of total offense, with 319 coming on 40 rushing attempts in its wing-t offense.
Owen Brown (100 yards rushing, 27 yards receiving) and Maeson Long (105 yards receiving, 40 yards rushing) each scored two touchdowns. Austin Powell added 70 yards and a touchdown on just four carries.
“They have so many running backs it doesn’t matter who’s back there,” Richards said. “They’re all good.”
While the Cadets’ focus was running the football, senior quaterback Ian Ellis proved to be a threat in the passing game.
Ellis completed 7 of 10 passes for 162 yards, adding 33 yards on the ground .
“The quarterback’s the key to it all,” Richards said. “He does pretty well with that timing.”
Ellis and the Cadets displayed their passing ability on their first drive.
A penalty had Fort Frye facing a first-and-32 from N-Y’s 26-yard line.
The Cadets came out firing, with Ellis finding a streaking Long downfield.
Long got behind the Buckeyes’ defense for a 74-yard scoring strike, and a 6-0 lead.
“They’re so used to ground and pound, they went to five wide on us and we just didn’t get checked into our cover four,” Richards said. “Which is crazy, because we’ve done that eight of the last 11 weeks against all these spread teams. But they sort of surprise you. They throw everything at you. They’ve got a heck of a ball club over here.”
The Buckeyes (8-4) were able to find success offensively, but couldn’t finish off drives.
Nelsonville-York’s first possession was 12 plays, and the Buckeyes were as deep the Cadets’ 18-yard line.
Fort Frye brought pressure against N-Y quarterback Drew Carter. Elijah Johnson recorded a sack on third down, and Hunter Kesselring and Caleb Riggs combined for a fourth-down sack to push the Buckeyes back.
The Buckeyes had three drives that went at least to Fort Frye’s 22-yard line without scoring points.
“A team like Fort Frye, you have to score with them,” Richards said. “We just sort of shot ourselves in the foot. One time we had a penalty. They’re almost at that level where you have to play a perfect game and we didn’t tonight.”
Fort Frye’s second scoring drive was a six-play, 44-yard march that was capped by Brown’s 5-yard touchdown run.
Perhaps the game-changing sequence came on the Buckeyes’ next drive. Carter completed a third-and-five pass to Makhi Williams, and the ball was initially spotted as a six-yard gain, and a first down.
After conferring with each other, the officials moved the ball back four yards to the 30-yard line, and the Buckeyes had to punt.
Riggs broke free and blocked Carter’s punt, with Fort Frye recovering the pigskin on the Buckeyes’ 10-yard line.
Long scored on the next play, and Ellis’ 2-point conversion pass to Quentin Huck had the Buckeyes facing a 22-0 deficit.
The Buckeyes got to within 22-6 at halftime thanks to Hudson Stalder’s 1-yard run, capping a seven-play, 71-yard scoring drive. Carter completed passes of 24 yards to Gavin Richards and 18 yards to Keagan Swope.
Nelsonville-York wasn’t able to build off the momentum in the third quarter. The Buckeyes got a defensive stop, then had a first down at Fort Frye’s 22-yard line after Carter’s 23-yard pass to Leighton Loge.
A holding penalty pushed the Buckeyes back, and the Cadets forced two incomplete passes to end the drive.
Fort Frye scored on its next two possessions, a 5-yard run for Brown making the score 28-6, then Powell’s 67-yard run ending the scoring with 37 seconds left in the third quarter.
Fort Frye advances to the Division VI, Region 23 semifinals against Barnesville (10-1), a 28-20 winner over KIPP Columbus on Saturday.
Carter completed 11 of 19 passes for 118 yards, adding 65 yards rushing on 16 carries in his final game for the Buckeyes.
Stalder had 32 yards on 11 carries, while Loge had 52 yards on three receptions. Gavin Richards added 41 yards on two catches.
The Buckeyes weren’t able to get past Fort Frye, but overcame plenty of obstacles along the way to get to week 12.
Nelsonville-York was 0-3, losing to three eventual playoff teams, before turning its season around. The Buckeyes won the final seven regular season games, claiming the program’s 24th league title, before winning a first-round playoff game last week against Centerburg.
The Buckeyes were led not only by Cater, but senior two-way linemen Nathan Martin, Dominik Robson and Tucker Levering. The trio all started since their freshmen or sophomore seasons, and will be missed next season.
Richards said the entire senior class made their mark with Buckeye football.
“These seniors are just hard workers,” he said. “They just kept showing up every day, showing up with smiles on their faces. That’s what we told them, be proud of where you came from. Walked out with a league title after losing all those seniors (in 2020).
“There’s a lot to be proud of. These kids all went out winners in my book. Glad I got to coach these boys the last four years because they’re some of the hardest workers I’ve had come through the program.”
Fort Frye 36, Nelsonville-York 6
Nelsonville-York 0 6 0 0 — 6
Fort Frye 6 16 14 0 — 36
FF — Maeson Long, 74-yard pass from Ian Ellis (pass failed), 4:25, 1st
FF — Owen Brown, 5-yard run (Maeson Long run), 6:01, 2nd
FF — Maeson Long, 10-yard run (Quentin Huck pass from Ian Ellis), 4:02, 2nd
NY — Hudson Stalder, 1-yard run (kick failed), 1:36, 2nd
FF — Owen Brown, 5-yard run (run failed), 5:08, 3rd
FF — Austin Powell, 67-yard run (Cameron Tennant pass from Ian Ellis), :37, 3rd
First downs 10 16
Plays from scrimmage 47 51
Rushing (plys-yds) 27-97 40-319
Passing yards 118 162
Total net yards 215 481
Passes (cmp-att-int) 11-20-0 7-11-0
Fumbles (no-lost) 0-0 0-0
Penalties (no-yds) 1-10 9-105
Punts (no-avg) 4-27.5 2-29
Nelsonville-York — Drew Carter 16-65, Hudson Stalder 11-32 TD; Fort Frye — Owen Brown 8-100 2 TDs, Austin Powell 4-70 TD, Ethan Duskey 5-42, Maeson Long 6-40 TD, Ian Ellis 8-33, Collin Welsh 3-21, Dakota Snodgrass 2-6, Clayton Miller 2-5, Layton Stewart 2-2.
Nelsonville-York — Drew Carter 11-19-0-118, Makhi Williams 0-1-0-0; Fort Frye — Ian Ellis 7-10-0-162 TD, TEAM 0-1-0-0.
Nelsonville-York — Leighton Loge 3-52, Gavin Richards 2-41, Keagan Swope 2-24, Makhi Williams 3-5, Reiston Richards 1-(-4); Fort Frye — Maeson Long 2-105 TD, Braxton Brown 2-30, Owen Brown 3-27.