KEYSER, W.Va. — Keyser and Frankfort do it again tonight for the 43rd time in the Mineral Bowl, as the Golden Tornado and Falcons close out their regular season in a battle of 8-1 teams at Alumni and Friends Field at Tornado Alley.
The only other non-playoff game on tap is Petersburg (4-5) hosting East Hardy (6-3) at Moorefield High School following a fire at the Vikings’ field house this week. See story on Page 1A.
Both games kick off at 7 p.m.
Moorefield (6-4) punched its ticket to the Class A playoffs last week with a 35-0 win over then-No. 1 seed Pendleton County. The Yellow Jackets are on a bye this week. Hampshire (0-10) ended its season with a 58-0 loss to Washington last week.
Frankfort at Keyser
The Tornado and Falcons aren’t separated by much this season, but tonight’s contest has big implications on playoff seeding as both teams currently sit in a three-way tie with Bluefield (8-1) for the No. 4 seed in the WVSSAC Class AA playoff ratings at 11.33 apiece.
Frankfort’s lone loss came to No. 19 Weir on Sept. 13 in double overtime, 28-27, when Nick Marley was stuffed on a two-point try in OT. The Falcons have won six straight since, including a road win at Maryland Class 1A West Region No. 3 Northern, 28-21.
The Tornado’s lone setback came at No. 2 Bridgeport, 28-7, two weeks ago, halting a seven-game win streak and six-game shutout run. Keyser bounced back with a 61-14 home win over Mountain Ridge a week ago.
Bluefield, like Frankfort, hasn’t lost since Sept. 13 when the Beavers fell, 20-14, at Lord Botetourt in Daleville, Virginia. Bluefield defeated No. 17 James Monroe, who would be the first team out if the Class AA playoffs began tonight, 49-12 last week and tonight the Beavers host Class AAA No. 24 Woodrow Wilson (1-8).
With the Falcons, Tornado and Beavers all bunched together, a second-round matchup between two of the three teams could be in the cards, but tonight’s winners are guaranteed at least a home game next week in the opening round of the playoffs.
Last week, it took the Tornado all of 15 seconds to get on the board, as Aaron Lyons intercepted a pass and returned it 34 yards for a score. Keyser got the ball back a few minutes later and Drae Allen capped off the drive with a 6-yard score as the Golden Tornado led 54-0 midway through the third quarter and cruised to victory over the Miners.
Allen and Caden Biser both had 73 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Biser also caught a 54-yard touchdown pass.
Don Woodworth added a defensive touchdown, scooping up a fumble and returning it 35 yards for a score.
The Golden Tornado have outscored their opponents 465-49, with the average score being 51-5. Keyser’s offense has 179 first downs while the defense has yielded 75.
The Tornado are 25 for 60 (42%) on third down and 11 for 19 (58%) on fourth down as opposed to their opponents being stifled at a rate of 25% (24 for 95) on third and 28% (7 for 25) on fourth downs.
The Keyser offense takes care of the ball well, turning it over just four times while forcing 19 turnovers on defense.
The Golden Tornado outgain their opponent, on average, 431.8-129.7 per game, including a 391.2-83.9 advantage on the ground.
That 83.9 average rushing yard figure by Keyser’s opponents will increase tonight if Marley and Co. have anything to say about it.
Marley leads the Frankfort offense with 1,204 yards on 125 carries with 20 touchdowns. JJ Blank has added 51 rushes for 691 yards and 12 scores.
Peyton Shanholtz has 84 rushes for 536 yards and seven TDs.
Quarterback Jansen Knotts is 21 of 46 passing for 256 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions to go along with 27 rushing attempts for 146 yards and three scores.
Brock Robinette leads the team in receptions (6) and receiving yards (93) while Shanholtz has the lone receiving touchdown, a 29-yard score against Mountain Ridge.
The Falcons have outscored opponents 358-127, with the average score being 40-14. They have outgained opponents, on average, 382.3 to 238.0 and are clicking at a rate of 47% (31 for 66) on third down. Their opponents have converted 24 of 90 (27%) third-down tries.
Keyser leads the all-time series, 28-15. The Golden Tornado have won the previous four meetings by a combined 183-20, including a 27-13 win at Frankfort Stadium last campaign. Biser ran for 111 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the victory. Allen and Lyons also reached the end zone. Marley had 10 carries for 52 yards, including an 18-yard touchdown run.
East Hardy vs. Petersburg, at Moorefield High School
The Vikings, albeit eliminated from playoff contention, will look to finish the season strong against East Hardy. The game was originally to be played at Petersburg, but a fire to the field house caused heavy damage and destroyed much of the Vikings’ equipment.
Moorefield head coach Matt Altabello and the Yellow Jackets, on a bye this week, are letting the Vikings play the game at Yellow Jacket Stadium so Petersburg can celebrate Senior Night and finish its season.
Due to the equipment damage, Keyser head coach Sean Biser and his staff have supplied the Vikings with helmets, shoulder pads and other equipment as well.
Last time out, Petersburg snapped a two-game losing skid with a 43-0 rout over Tucker County.
East Hardy, ranked 14th in Class A, can clinch a playoff berth with a win. It has won six of its last seven since losing to Frankfort 41-0 in Week 2. The lone blemish came two weeks ago to then-No. 1 and current-No. 3 Pendleton, 7-6. The Cougars bounced back and defeated Trinity Christian last week, 39-0.
Follow Staff Writer Kyle Bennett on Twitter @KyleBennettCTN.