BEVERLY - Late in the fourth quarter of last Saturday night's football game at John D. Sulsberger Memorial Stadium in Zanesville, Fort Frye had the ball on its own nine-yard line after a Justin Massey pick of a Rosecrans pass.
Previously, the visiting Cadets had trimmed a two touchdown deficit to tie the Bishops at 28-all, but now they needed a go-ahead score for hopefully a win and a berth in the Ohio Division V playoffs.
Ninety-one yards away...well, it looked almost like a mile's drive from the Cadets' vantage point.
PAM BROOKER Special to the Times
Fort Frye senior tight end Tyser Shilling (7) is greeted by younger Cadet fans as he’s introduced to the crowd before a game this fall. Shilling is not only one of the team’s fundamentally sound blockers on the line, which has helped open up holes for the running backs, but also a weapon on offense, having made several receptions.
If ever The Fort offensive line needed to step up and open up holes for the likes of Chandler Lang, Spencer Lang, and Max Alsbach, this was the time.
So, what happened? Those blue-collar guys in the trenches - LT Dylan Bowman 5-9, 156 pounds), LG Garrett Hall (5-11, 145), Center Drew Layton 5-8, 240), RG Tyler Wittekind 5-8, 172), RT Branden Close (5-7, 157), and TE Tyser Shilling (6-1, 178) - got the job done, and helped the Cadets march nine plays to the Rosecrans one, where Alsbach then capped the journey with a plunge into the end zone.
"Some of our guys on the line are outweighed 50-60 pounds at positions," said Fort Frye head coach Eric Huck. "But they have played big all season long."
No question about that.
Just ask quarterback Chandler Lang, who has rushed for 808 yards on 95 carries and 15 touchdowns.
Or, ask Spencer Lang, who has gained 734 yards on 88 attempts, and scored nine rushing TDS.
Alsbach leads the team with 970 yards on the ground on 135 carries and eight scores, and he'll be one of the first to tip his hat to those guys up front.
Getting back to that game in Zanesvile, there was still time for Rosecrans to come back. So, Fort Frye still had some work to do on defense and needed a stop.
Not surprisingly, most of the Cadets on the offensive line play both ways - everyone as a matter of fact except Close. So, here's another name to add to the defensive line mix - sophomore DE Luke Yates (6-0, 171).
To the Bishops' credit, they did rally and drove to the Fort 26. But on fourth and long with 15 seconds remaining in the contest, the Cadets broke up a pass near the goal-line. Game over, and The Fort won 34-28.
Now, the Cadets (8-2) are scheduled to play host and undefeated Kirtland (10-0) in an opening-round playoff game at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Fort Frye's line helped make that trip to northwest Ohio possible.