SHORT GAP, W.Va. — In a game of big plays, no one stood out more than Frankfort linebacker Brady Watson, who ran for more than 100 yards, scored three touchdowns, and pulled off perhaps the theft of the year in leading the Falcons to a 28-20 win over Moorefield in their home debut Friday night.
Watson helped jumpstart the Frankfort offense by running for 95 yards and two touchdowns in the second quarter, but it was his heist on defense in the fourth quarter that may be remembered the most in a well-played game by both sides.
Frankfort (2-0), up 21-20 and trying to find a way to stop the Yellow Jackets, cashed in when the Falcons’ defense stood up a Moorefield runner in the middle of the line on third-and-one. To Watson, what came next was elementary. While the line had the runner smothered, Watson swiped the ball and dashed 49 yards for a touchdown and a 28-20 lead.
“The defensive line held their runner up really good. It was a big pile. I just took the ball and went the other way,’’ Watson said. “The credit goes to the defensive line for holding him up. We were looking for a big play. That’s what we do.”
Frankfort coach Kevin Whiteman couldn’t agree more.
“Brady stripping the ball and going in for the touchdown was definitely a momentum changer,’’ he said. “And on offense, he’s very determined and runs hard all the time. He wants the ball in his hands.”
The defensive play of the game came just moments after the offensive play of the game — a 72-yard touchdown pass from Gage Shaffer to Thane Cutter. On third-and-13 and after a quarterback sack, Cutter made a great over the shoulder catch in a battle with Moorefield defender DaShawn Brown along the sideline. Cutter caught the ball near the Yellow Jacket 40-yard line and ran untouched the rest of the way, giving Frankfort its first lead at 21-20 with 11:35 to go.
“Thane is a great player and does a lot of things for us. He’s a captain, and leads on and off the field,’’ said Whiteman. “We expect big plays from him on both sides of the ball.”
Cutter, a senior, had a huge night with three catches for 133 yards and a touchdown and two interceptions on defense. Shaffer completed 6 of 8 passes for 170 yards and Watson, who went over 100 yards rushing on his first carry in the third quarter, finished with 15 carries and 110 yards, including 5- and 7-yard touchdown runs in the second period.
“The offensive line was clicking in full gear. Without the line, I couldn’t have been able to do it. The line was great both ways,’’ said Watson.
Moorefield’s potent offense had 16 plays of 10 yards or more, but was just 1 for 6 on third-down conversions in the second half and finished with three turnovers. Quarterback Adam Snyder ran 10 times for 90 yards and went 11 for 22 for 137 yards passing. Brown was his favorite target, as the elusive wide receiver hauled in 10 passes for 121 yards. Colton Bramson ran 17 times for 173 yards.
After a scoreless first quarter, the teams combined for 35 points in the second, including three touchdowns in the final 1:59 of the half.
Lance Taylor capped an 11-play, 86-yard Moorefield drive with a 22-yard TD run on the first play of the second quarter, and Frankfort answered with a five-play, 80-yard drive that included a 27-yard pass to Cutter, and 28- and 19-yard runs by Watson, who scored on a five-yard run to tie it with 7:01 on the clock.
Moorefield regained the lead after an interception by Snyder, who returned it to the Frankfort 40. Out of the shotgun, Snyder ran for 16 yards on first down, then lofted a pass to the goal line where Brown outleaped two defenders to make the catch and put the Yellow Jackets back on top, 14-7, with 1:59 left.
That lead didn’t last long, as six plays later Watson scored on a seven-yard run to cap a 59-yard drive, the big play during the series being a 34-yard pass from Shaffer to Cutter.
The tying touchdown came just 28 seconds before halftime. It was 14-all for just 14 seconds, as Tyheim Franklin went untouched in returning the ensuing kickoff 89 yards for a touchdown. The kick failed, leaving Moorefield up 20-14.
Moorefield (1-1) outgained Frankfort 210-137 in the second half, with more than half of Frankfort’s 137 coming on the touchdown pass to Cutter. The Yellow Jackets ended up with a 427-349 edge in total offense.
“Defensively, we bent but didn’t break. We kept battling and pulled it out,’’ Whiteman said. “Moorefield had a great game plan and is very well coached, and you know they will battle you to the end. They have a very good team and will have a real good year. It wouldn’t surprise me if this is the only game they lose.”
Moorefield hosts Southern on Friday. Frankfort is idle next week and will visit Berkeley Springs on Sept. 14.
Mike Mathews is a Cumberland Times-News sportswriter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org