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Fort Frye football advances to regional final

Cadets beat Barnsville 34-0, play Fairland in round of eight

BEVERLY — Maeson Long and Collin Welsh had big games running the ball and Fort Frye’s defense had another outstanding showing as the Cadets ousted Barnesville 34-0 in Saturday’s Division VI, Region 23 semifinal.

The Cadets (9-0) now will get a chance to accomplish one of their biggest goals of the 2020 season next Saturday when they play host to Fairland in the regional final. A win would put Fort Frye in the state semifinals for the second time in program history, the first coming in 2018.

“Next week’s a huge game,” said Fort Frye head coach Eric Huck. “We’re excited that we’re playing on our field again. It’s been one of those goals we’ve been looking at for a long time, and it’s next week.”

The Cadets knew better than to look past the Shamrocks, though. Barnesville (6-3) came in with a balanced offensive attack and presented a solid challenge for the Cadets.

“Barnesville’s a good football team,” Huck said. “For us to get a win against them is big. We hadn’t had a game like that in a few weeks, and that’s what you expect in a regional semifinal game.”

While Barnesville was able to move the ball, it never found a way into the end zone against the stingy Cadets. Five turnovers forced by the Cadets were key, including two interceptions by Owen Brown.

“I thought our defense stepped up and played tremendously the whole game,” Huck said.

“That first half, things weren’t going perfect on offense but our defense kept us where we needed to be.”

When the Cadets had the ball, their running game was nearly unstoppable.

As a team, they carried 38 times for 322 yards, an 8.5 per carry average. Long led the way with 10 carries for 147 yards and three touchdowns coming from 65, 20 and 25 yards out. Welsh added 79 yards on 10 rushes and a 26-yard score, while Brown chipped in 63 yards on eight carries.

“Our offensive line has been blocking great and they’re going to have to keep that up as we continue,” Huck said. “It just depends on who they’re trying to take away that somebody else can step up. Maeson Long’s been a great edition this year. Any time he touches the ball he can take it to the house. He just has that ability. He’s a heck of a runner. We need to get him the ball probably a little bit more.

“Collin had a great game running the ball as well. We needed that from him.”

Fort quarterback Ian Ellis completed 6 of 11 passes for 100 yards and a touchdown. He was picked off twice by Gage Hannahs.

Hannahs also led the Shamrocks with 62 yards on 17 carries and 49 yards on five receptions. Quarterback C.J. Hannahs was 13 for 30 for 139 yards and was intercepted three times. Barnesville’s quick passing game chewed up clock and kept them in the game at halftime, trailing just 13-0. Huck said the Cadets had to respect Barnesville’s running game, which is why they were able to find some holes in the secondary.

“We could have ran some other defenses where we have a little bit better coverage, but they run the ball so well we really wanted to keep our guys in the box,” Huck said. “It does put our defensive backs in a little bit of a bind, but I thought they played great considering. We were really wanting to make sure we shut down the run game.”

Fort Frye scored twice in the first quarter, the first coming on Ellis’s 11-yard TD pass to Nic Hart at the 8:31 mark. Hart also had a pick on defense and played a major rolein the shutout along with fellow corner back Jay Baker.

“Nic had a great game,” Huck said. “I thought all of our secondary had a great game. Jay did a great job breaking up some passes. They were really picking on our outside linebackers. It puts them in a little bit of a bind sometimes (with offenses) trying to play-action at them and then throw the ball, but I thought Nic and Jay both stepped and covered a lot of field for them.”

Long hit the first big play of the game later in the first, scoring from 65 yards out at the 2:19 mark to make it 13-0.

After a scoreless second quarter, Fort Frye scored on its opening drive of the third. An 18-yard carry by Long set up Welsh’s 26-yard score, and Long ran in the two-point conversion to make it 21-0 at the 8:41 mark.

Long scored twice more, a 20-yard TD at the 6:42 mark in the third and a 25-yard with 7:24 left in the fourth to ice the game.

Jordan Holland can be reached at jholland@mariettatimes.com.

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