Turners wins OT thriller

  • Frontier's Garrett DeForest (10) hurdles Turners Falls' Kyle Dodge (12) after an attempted tackle in the first quarter Friday in South Deerfield, Oct. 12, 2018. Staff/Dan Little

  • Turners Falls' Andry Craver (5) gets wrapped up by Frontier's Garrett DeForest (10) on a punt return in the first half Friday in South Deerfield, Oct. 12, 2018. Staff/Dan Little

  • Above, Turners Falls running back Wyatt Keith is met by defenders Matt Hildreth and Garrett DeForest (10) Friday night during the Powertown’s 35-28 overtime victory in South Deerfield. Below, Turners receiver Andy Craver hauls in a pass with DeForest draped on him. Staff PHOTOS/Dan Little

  • Frontier's Garrett DeForest (10) runs in for a touchdown against Turners Falls in the first quarter Friday in South Deerfield, Oct. 12, 2018. Staff/Dan Little

  • Frontier's Ito McMillan (2) gets pushed out of bounds by Turners Falls' Andy Craver (5) after a first down reception in the first half Friday in South Deerfield, Oct. 12, 2018. Staff/Dan Little

  • Turners Falls quarterback Kyle Dodge (12) throws downfield against Frontier in the first quarter Friday in South Deerfield, Oct. 12, 2018. Staff/Dan Little

  • Frontier quarterback Matt Hildreth throws a completion Friday night. Staff/Dan Little

Staff Writer
Published: 10/12/2018 11:27:18 PM

It was a showdown that lived up to the billing.

In what equated to the Intercounty League North Division championship game between Turners Falls High School and Frontier Regional School Friday night in South Deerfield, regulation just wasn’t enough. Kyle Dodge needed only two plays in overtime to hit Jaden Whiting with a touchdown pass to untied the 28-28 score that knotted the teams after regulation. The Powertown defense then stood tall on Frontier’s possession and Turners knocked off the Red Hawks, 35-28.

Turners Falls won the coin toss and elected to play offense first in overtime, which gives both teams a chance to score on a first-and-goal from the 10. Thunder running back Wyatt Keith, who easily eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark for the season on the night, took a handoff on first down and was stuffed after a yard. On second down, Turners coach Chris Lapointe put the ball in the hands of his senior quarterback. Dodge rolled to his right on the play and Whiting got a step on his defender. Dodge led his receiver, and Whiting had to make a diving catch to snare the ball before it hit the ground.

“They loaded the box so that’s why we did the roll out pass there,” Dodge said of the play. “Jaden ran the perfect route and I threw it where I thought he could catch it. He caught it low but that was it.”

Tyler Lavin made the point after to finish a perfect 5-for-5 on extra points on the night and Turners had the seven-point lead. It was then Frontier’s turn to match it and Garrett DeForest, who suffered a shoulder injury in the first half and did not see much in the way of carries in the second half, ran it a yard on first down. His backfield mate, Ito McMillan took the second down handoff but Turners defensive end Anthony Peterson got in the backfield and blew up the play, dropping the back for a 5-yard loss. On third and goal from the 14, Frontier quarterback Matt Hildreth rolled to his left but was pursued by Turners defender John Fritz, which forced Hildreth to throw the ball away. On fourth down, Turners defensive tackle Reilan Castine moved laterally on the line prior to the snap and the move paid off, as he found an open seam that he burst through on the snap. Hildreth had to throw a quick pass that never had a chance for intended receiver DeForest.

“I almost was offsides,” Castine said with a relieved laugh. “That was the ‘DT Twist’ so I just went to my spot and it was wide open.” 

The fourth quarter also had plenty of drama for the crowds, which packed both sidelines. Turners Falls scored midway through the third quarter to break a 14-14 halftime deadlock and take a 21-14 lead, which it carried into the fourth. Frontier scored on the first play of the fourth quarter when Hildreth rushed in from 11 yards out. He then connected on the extra point (he was 4-for-4 on extra point kicks on the night) to tie the score at 21-21. 

Turners answered with a long drive, which took 14 plays and ate up nearly eight minutes and ended with Dodge barreling into the end zone on fourth-and-goal from the 1 with 2:52 to play to give the Thunder a 28-21 lead.

Undeterred, Frontier came right back, moving the ball 61 yards in eight plays. That included a 31-yard pass from DeForest to Hildreth on a third-and-14 from the Frontier 35, and ended with DeForest scoring from 3 yards out with 45.1 seconds to play.

Turners got one final chance, but the final play of regulation came from the Frontier 35 and ended with Dodge rushing the ball all the way to the Frontier 11 before Hildreth brought him down.

It was all Frontier early on, as Turners did not register a first down on its first two drives. Frontier, meanwhile, scored on its second possession of the game when DeForest — who rushed 12 times for 45 yards — scored the game’s first touchdown from one yar out with 3 minutes, 17 seconds to play in the first quarter. He then made it 14-0 when he threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Corbin Blight with 8:51 to play in the second quarter.

Turners finally got its footing, as well as its first first down after that touchdown, as Keith took over. The senior back led back-to-back touchdown drives for Turners and scored from 6 and 2 yards out to tie the score before halftime.

Keith entered the night needing 38 yards to hit 1,000 and he left little doubt as he rushed 37 times for 226 yards. He added his third rushing touchdown of the game from 2 yards out in the third quarter. Keith credited a strong performance from the offensive line — which included the likes of Dom Carme, Ryan Duclos, Jacob Wilson, Castine, Cam Dresser and Drew Denny — with his big performance after the slow start.

“At first, everyone was just going slow, myself included, but in the second quarter we all stepped it up, especially the line,” Keith said. “The line was getting their blocks and opening holes. From the second quarter and on, the line just pounded it.”

Dodge finished 6-for-11 for 66 yards for Turners, completing passes to four different receivers. Fritz had one catch for 22 yards, Andy Craver had two catches for 18 yards, Whiting finished with two catches for 16 yards, and Jake Wallace had one catch for 10 yards.

Hildreth had a mammoth of a game in the loss, completing 5-of-9 passes for 76 yards and also rushing 11 times for 49 yards. Fullback Alec Kirkendall had nine rushes for 29 yards.

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