Prep football: Skins top Cougars

CALDWELL – For the second week in a row the Frontier Cougars were doomed by turnovers, as two fumble recoveries and two interceptions fueled Caldwell to a 36-13 victory at the Noble County Fairgrounds Friday evening.

The running of Tanner Clark and Bricker Lori didn’t help matters either for the Cougars, as the duo combined for 281 yards and four touchdowns on 31 carries.

“It starts up front,” said Caldwell head coach Josh Perkins. “Everybody’s run game and everybody’s stopping the run game starts up front with the offensive line and defensive line and both lines played extremely well tonight.

“Those guys do a heck of a job running or they would be running the ball anyway.”

Frontier’s first two offensive drives went deep into Caldwell territory before turnovers halted the Cougars’ momentum.

“We’re still working on becoming that team that can overcome adversity,” said Frontier head coach Todd Bradford. “You saw tonight that there’s times where we’re just not doing that yet. We’re not overcoming those things. We’re kind of hanging our heads a little, getting a little frustrated. Those are the kinds of things we’re gonna have to get better at.”

After Frontier’s first turnover, however, Caldwell returned the favor, as Donovan Boley picked up a Redskin fumble and returned it 30 yards to the house. Garrett Buegel’s kick made it 7-0.

The excitement was short-lived for the Cougars, as Caldwell would score 36 unanswered points, starting with a 20-yard touchdown run by Clark on the ensuing drive. Jason Allen’s kick tied it up at 7-all.

After Frontier fumbled again on its next drive, Caldwell again gave it right back as Clark had a pass attempt picked off by Dylan Absher inside the red-zone. This time, however, the Cougars failed to capitalize on the miscue and would be forced to punt.

Johnny Carpenter returned the punt 24 yards to the Frontier 30, and Clark went into the end-zone two plays later from 15 yards out to give the ‘Skins the lead.

It remained a 14-7 game until six seconds into the fourth quarter. Backed up near their own goal-line, Frontier quarterback Mitch Reynolds bobbled a shotgun snap and was sacked by Tanner Baker and Kam Rayner in the end-zone for a safety to make the score 16-7. After Frontier kicked off, giving Caldwell good field position at the Cougars’ 45-yard line, a 15-yard run by Clark and a 7-yard carry by Lori set up a 23-yard TD burst by Lori to put the ‘Skins up 22-7.

Still just a two-score game, Frontier drove the ball into Caldwell territory before back-to-back sacks by Austin Schockling forced a punt.

Lori, who finished with 153 yards on 12 carries, scored a 31-yard rushing touchdown on the next drive and Johnny Carpenter later returned a punt 40 yards for a score to put the finishing touches on it.

Absher would score a 26-yard rushing touchdown on an end-around play for Frontier late in the fourth period, but it was too little too late as Caldwell ran the clock out on its next drive.

“It’s football,” Perkins said. “Nobody is perfect. There’s always gonna be mistakes, but it’s how you react to those mistakes. The kids didn’t dwell on anything tonight. They just went out and played.”

Along with Lori’s total, Clark contributed 128 yards on 19 carries and was 4-for-10 passing for 50 yards.

Rodney Barnes led Frontier’s ground game with 49 yards on 12 rushes. Reynolds was 13-for-24 passing for 123 yards.

Caldwell, currently ranked No. 7 in its region, improved to 5-2 overall and 2-1 in the Pioneer Valley Conference.

“It’s out there on paper. You can’t run from it. Not one of these kids on this field have ever been to a playoff game,” Perkins said in reference to Caldwell’s regional ranking.

“When we walk onto the field Monday for practice, Fort Frye is our objective. We’ll let everything else fall into place.”

Frontier fell to 3-4 overall and 1-3 in the PVC.