CHALMERS — There were more smiles than frowns Saturday afternoon, even after Fountain Central lost their football season opener 32-18 to Frontier.
“We cherish this day,” Mustangs coach Ryan Hall said, noting two missed games due to COVID-19. “The guys want to play, we’ve taken this whole situation seriously. We had a good short summer, what we could get out of it, and we had a good scrimmage. We’ve missed practices and games. We just take it day by day, and I tell the guys to be healthy day by day.”
After getting the first-game jitters shaken loose, the Mustangs gave the Falcons, who move to 3-0 with the win, all they could handle.
After giving up touchdowns on their first two defensive series, FC pitched a second quarter shutout and the offense added two scores.
Two big plays by the home team put the Mustangs in a hole in the third quarter, but they scored late in that third to capture the momentum back.
Frontier’s defense came up with a couple fourth quarter turnovers to seal the win.
“You could tell it was the first game,” Hall said. “We lined up on the wrong side a couple times and made a couple other mistakes that a good team like Frontier makes you pay for. But once we settled down, I thought we played well. I really think we won the second and most of the fourth quarters. If we had been able to score some points after touchdowns, we would have been within one score.”
The Falcons got two points after each of their four scores, while the Mustangs got none. Frontier only scored four TDs, while FC had three.
After the Falcons had jumped out to the 16-0 lead late in the first quarter, the Mustangs adjusted defensively and found their offensive flow.
Senior quarterback Seth Gayler connected with Isaac Gayler for a 25 yard TD, and then scored on a 3-yard run late in the period.
“We couldn’t get to halftime fast enough and get off the field,” Frontier coach Burgess said. “Give Fountain Central a lot of credit. We were able to make some adjustments for the second half and I’m really proud of our defense.(Defensive Coordinator Derek) Dean had a great game plan. They (FC) are a big team and hard to push around.”
The Falcons got a quick score to start the third quarter when senior running back Caleb Atkinson went 52 yards, which included a handful of broken tackles.
Atkinson, who had 530 rush yards in his first two outings finished with 193 yards on 27 carries and scored twice. To the Mustang’s credit, the 230 pound back was dropped for a loss four times, and held to less than five yards 13 times.
“Atkinson is a special player, but his success starts with fullback Isaiah Davis,” Burgess said of the junior, who added 38 ground yards. “He blocks well, as does our line. It’s no secret we are going to run the ball.”
The Mustangs finished with 160 yards on the ground, led by Austin Pickett. The junior had 101 rush yards on 18 carries, and scored once. He also hauled in two passes from Gayler. Owen Acton added 48 yards on 10 carries. Gayler finished 3-of-8 passing for 46 yards and the one score. He was picked three times, all in the second half.
“Pickett and Acton are tough guys,” Hall said. “They ran hard.”
The coach was also happy with his team’s demeanor.
“Last year, when we fell behind 16-0, we might have just given up,” he said. “Not these guys. They never gave. We never got down. The guys kept going and going. We looked like and acted like such a different team from last year. Jordan Melvin had such a great game on defense. He also recovered a punt that Ely Thompson blocked. Owen Acton also had a really good game at linebacker.”
Both teams hope to continue playing next Friday.
The Falcons travel to Clinton Central while the Mustangs take on long-time rival Covington.
FRONTIER 32, FOUNTAIN CENTRAL 18
Score by Quarters
Fountain Central 0 12 6 0 — 18
Frontier 16 0 16 0 — 32
Team Stats FC FRON
First Downs 8 18
Rush Yards 160 228
Pass Yards 46 53
Total Yards 206 281
Turnovers 4 2
Penalties 6/40 3/40
Pickett 18/66 TD, Acton 10/48, S.Gayler 12/11 TD. Totals 40/160
Atkinson 27/193 2TD, Davis 11/38, Wagner 9/1. Totals 47/228
Fountain Central: S.Gayler 3-8-46 TD, 3Int, Pickett 0-1. Totals 3-9-46. Frontier: Wagner 5-8-53 2TD, Int.
Fountain Central: Pickett 2-21, I.Gayler 1-25 TD. Totals 3-46. Frontier: Capes 2-34 TD, Reedy 2-19 TD, Atkinson 1-0. Totals 5-53
FRON Atkinson 6 yd run (Davis run) 6:02
FRON Wagner 7 yd pass to Capes (Atkinson run) :02.6
FC S.Gayler 25 yd pass to I.Gayler (pass fail) 3:17
FC S.Gayler 3 yd run (kick blocked) :19
FRON Atkinson 52 yd run (Atkinson run) 10:58
FRON S.Gayler 27 yd pass to Capes (Atkinson run) 2:56
FC Pickett 4 yd run (kick blocked) 1:37