BEALLSVILLE - Beallsville High had every reason to believe its Friday night home opener would end with the Blue Devils strengthening their playoff potential in Division VII Region 25.
Coach Paul Kanzigg's defense had been solid for four quarters, while the offense moved the ball a little better in the second half. Big Blue was set to break a 6-all tie with less than a minute to go.
Enter Frontier sophomore cornerback Nick Camino, who picked off a Levi Phillips pass and darted untouched along the Cougars sideline for a game-deciding 56-yard interception return with 50 seconds to play.
The bonus run by Jared Howell, who led Frontier's ground game with 106 yards, including a 30-yard TD run in the first quarter, to wrap up a 14-6 verdict.
"We threw the ball a lot better in the second half," Kanzigg mentioned, as Phillips, a sophomore in his second start for suspended starter Chase Mercer, completed eight-of-nine second half throws until the fateful toss.
"There was some miscommunication on the (INT), but penalties and mental mistakes in the first half hurt our field position," added Kanzigg of his Blue Devils (3-2), who entered the contest among the top eight in Region 25. "I couldn't ask any more from the 'D'.
Frontier 14, Beallsville 6
Frontier 6 0 0 7 - 14
Beallsville 0 0 0 6 - 6
F: Jared Howell 30 run (kick blocked), 2:23
B: Palmer 3 run, (kick failed), 11:02
F: Nick Camino, 60 pass interception (Howell run), :51
Frontier: first downs 8, rushes/yds 39/75, passing (-1), total yds 74, pen/yd 7/45, punts/avg 8/30.9, f/l 0.0
Beallsville: first downs 11, rushes/yd 28/68, passing yds 91, total 159, pen/yd 6/50, punts/avg 6/27.3, f/l 1/1
Frontier: Rushing Howell 17-108-1TD, 27-13
Beallsville: Rushing Bruce Cefert 10-34; Passing Levi Phillips 16-27-91-2TD; Palmer 7-52; Lucas 7-34
Next game: Fort Frye at Frontier Friday
Leading the Blue stop corps was senior stalwart Dalton Secrest, who had five sacks, five unassisted stops, four assists, and one tackle-for-loss. Other big contributors were junior Tristan Palmer, sophomore Cole Susac, senior Aaron West, and senior Bruce Sefert.
One major error the BHS coaching staff will lament was a late block- in-the-back penalty erasing a 56-yard Mikey Palmer punt return score with under a minute left in the half.
"We prepared for the short passes in the second half," Frontier coach Todd Bradford said, ''and Camino really jumped on the route for the game-winner."
Junior Robert Valentine short-circuited Frontier's opening drive with an interception at his 30, but two plays later, Dakota Welker picked off a tipped pass at the visitors' 25.
The Cougars opened the scoring on a 38-yard, 3-play drive after a Beallsville punt out of its end zone. Howell scampered 30 yards for the TD at 2:23, but a strong front push led by Secrest blocked the point-after kick.
Neither offense threatened the remainder of the half as Big Blue mustered only one first down until the final minute, while Frontier QB Mitch Reynolds was under siege from the 'Three S' sack crew of Secrest, Susac and Sefert.
Beallsville's scoring drive covered 79 yards in 11 plays as Phillips completed three passes to Palmer, including a 24-yarder.
Senior Derek Lucas toted for nine to the Cougs' 46, but Sefert added four carries for 31 yards to put the oval at the four-yard line.
Phillips bulled up the middle for the TD at 11:02, but a momentum swing missed when the PAT kick sailed wide.
After Howell's TD put Frontier on top late, the hosts' final drive couldn't cross midfield.
Frontier, now at 3-2, hosts PVC rival Fort Frye on Friday, while Beallsville travels to unbeaten Shadyside on the same night.
Sefert led the Devils with 42 ground yards, while Palmer (8 catches, 58 yds) and Lucas (6 catches, 38 yds) led the receiving corps.