It was a Friday the 21st but felt a lot like a Friday the 13th. North was south, light was dark, east was west and the whole Frederick County football hierarchy seemed to have been flipped upside down.
After two hours and 40 minutes of football, 742 yards of total offense, 10 punts, three fumbles, two interceptions, a blocked punt, a fake punt, three failed conversions, and three touchdowns of more than 50 yards — two more that were called back — it was top-ranked Middletown High School that claimed a 28-25 victory against No. 4 Frederick on Friday night.
“As a football coach, you just want to come out and execute perfectly,” Middletown coach Kevin Lynott said. “Well, in life, life’s not perfect, and it’s not, and you got to adjust and roll with the punches and certainly we had some setbacks. We had some great positive plays in all three phases. It was a roller coaster game and it was gutting it out at the end.”
In a game that featured two of the remaining three undefeated teams in Frederick County, it didn’t fail to deliver.
The night began with Frederick senior quarterback Matt Hynes engineering a 15-play, 75-yard drive that ate up nearly seven minutes of clock and left the Knights scratching their heads after he tossed a 10-yard pass to Ryando Harvey for the game’s opening score.
But Jerel English, one of the county’s top running backs, pushed the extra point right, the first of three botched conversions by the Cadets.
That was the way the rest of the half went for Frederick. The Cadets not only didn’t produce a yard for the next 17:05 of the first half, they were pushed back a total of -16 yards.
On Middletown’s third possession, Knight running back Jess Powell hauled in a screen pass from Tim Pirrone and, over the next 16 yards, proceeded to bowl his way through several Frederick defenders until he finally reached the end zone.
After both Frederick and Middletown produced nothing on each of their next drives, the Cadets took over on their own 25 with 1:14 left. And again, their offense looked anemic, surrendering a sack and having a run stuffed. And again, for the fourth time in a row, the punt team came on. But English muffed the snap and was swamped by several Knights on his own 7-yard-line. Two plays later Pirrone found Bradley Rinehart for a 7-yard score and the Knights entered the second half up 14-6.
It seemed, at the time, that order had been restored. The 2011 2A state champs were beating the team that hasn’t had a winning record since 2007, which was also the last time Frederick had beaten Middletown.
But, as Lynott said, this was a “roller coaster night.” On the sixth play of Middletown’s opening drive of the second half, Francis Meighan took his only carry of the game and fumbled, which was promptly returned to the Knights after Jackson Panther picked off a Hynes pass on the Cadets’ seventh play of their drive. But four plays later, to the sounds of collective groans from the Middletown crowd, the Knights fumbled again.
Zach Welch, who had been held to just 42 yards in the first half, finally got things going for the Knights on their next possession with 64-yard touchdown burst to give the Knights a 21-6 lead and 21 unanswered points.
But then Hynes found E.J. Wallace for 62 yards and a touchdown and Middletown lost another fumble — its third in four possessions — and the senior quarterback responded with a bold jump ball to Alex Levine, who beat Welch to it and waltzed in for a 54-yard score.
Middletown stalled and punted but cornered the Cadets on their own 6-yard line. And Hynes delivered again, lofting a 94-yard touchdown to Justin Walker —or so it seemed. Two penalties brought the ball back to the Frederick 38-yard-line, although the miscues proved to be inconsequential. Six plays later Hynes found Walker for a touchdown on a 5-yard slant, giving Frederick its first lead of the game.
The Cadets defense had a chance to seal it as Middletown took over with 3:22 left on its own 35. Pirrone dashed out all upset hopes, however, with another strike to Rinehart, this time a 10-yarder, and Hynes was out of magic as his second pass of the ensuing drive was tipped up and picked off by linebacker Sean Wenner.
“The idea when you get into these big games is that the little things make the difference,” Frederick coach Vince Ahearn said. “This was an awesome learning experience for us. The kids, the coaching staff the community, they now know that we can play.”
Middletown 28, Frederick 25
Middletown (4-0) 0 14 7 7 28
Frederick (3-1) 6 0 12 7 25
F—Ryando Harvey 10 pass from Matt Hynes (Jerel English kick failed)
M—Jess Powell 16 pass from Tim Pirrone (Zach Welch kick)
M—Bradley Rinehart 7 pass from Tim Pirrone (Zach Welch kick)
M—Zach Welch 64 run (Zach Welch kick)
F—E.J. Wallace 62 pass from Matt Hynes (Matt Hynes pass failed)
F—Alex Levine 54 pass from Matt Hynes (Matt Hynes pass failed)
F—Justin Walker 5 pass from Matt Hynes (Jerel English kick)
M—Bradley Rinehart 10 pass from Tim Pirrone
Middletown—Zach Welch 16-166; Tim Pirrone 7-45; Bradley Rinehart 1-25; Jess Powell 6-11; Francis Meighan 1-4; Jackson Panther 1-0.
Frederick—Matt Hynes 17-80; Jerel English 9-41; Alex Levine 1-3; Damon Mackin 1-1.
Middletown—Tim Pirrone 11-19-116; Tim Schumacher 1-19; Jackson Panther 1-0-1
Frederick—Matt Hynes 16-26-229-2
Middletown—Bradley Rinehart 5-51; Jackson Panther 3-38; Matthew Lloyd 1-30; Zach Welch 2-26; Jess Powell 1-16
Frederick—Alex Levine 5-81; E.J. Wallace 1-62; Justin Walker 2-37; Jerel English 2-31; Damon Mackin 4-28; Ryando Harvey 3-20