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Frontier comes back for thrilling OT win to advance to semifinal

JUST GETTING BY — Junior Paul Brinkel carries the ball with backfield mates Kenny Kahler and Cam Coon, leading the way in Frontier’s comeback 27 – 21 overtime win against Lockport. Photo courtesy of Ron Larson.
Frontier football coach Tim Myslinski said all his Falcons had to do was start playing with a little emotion in their Class AA playoff game against Lockport on Oct. 25. The rest would take care of itself. And it did.

With emotions flaring in front of a jacked-up Frontier crowd, the Falcons scored 20 straight points to overcome a fourth quarter deficit and defeat the Lions 27 – 21 in overtime, at Frontier High School. Myslinski said that the Falcons, who held the Lions to 32 second half yards, had gotten away from playing with emotion, which showed on the scoreboard early.

“At times, guys are so methodical,” said Myslinski, whose team was upset the week prior, 14 – 7, by rival Hamburg. “They know what they have to do and how they have to do it. But sometimes you forget about the spirit and emotion of the game. In the second half, I think we realized we had to execute and we had to execute with emotion.”

Frontier defensive back Paul Brinkel intercepted a Lockport pass in the end zone on the opening possession of the overtime and running back Cameron Coon had a 5-yard rushing touchdown on the Falcons’ first offensive try, to put a stamp on the team’s comeback.

“Going into the second half, being down two scores, we did feel down,” senior quarterback Tyler Gaglia said. “But our coaching staff was telling us that we had to believe. Perseverance was the word, back there.”

Backed by a raucous crowd that braved heavy rain for part of the contest, the Falcons seized momentum from their divisional foes early in the fourth quarter, when they scored offensive and defensive touchdowns 7 seconds apart.

Gaglia scored on a 3-yard keeper to cap off a 10-play, 50-yard drive, in which the team converted on a pair of third downs. The Frontier faithful didn’t have a chance to calm down, when Kevin Hamilton tied the score on the next play from scrimmage. The Lions’ shotgun snap, was high; quarterback Tyler Fraass got his fingers on it, but the ball deflected off the ground right to Hamilton, who took it 20 yards into the end zone.

“The atmosphere behind the bleachers was awesome,” Gaglia said. “People who weren’t even playing were pushing us.”

The win means Frontier, now 6 – 1 in the league and 6 – 2 overall, will advance to host perennial Class AA power Orchard Park on Friday, Nov. 1 at 7 p.m. in the division semifinals. The teams did not meet in the regular season. The Quakers, with an identical 6 – 2 record, have been hot of late, including coasting to a playoff-opening win against Clarence.

“They’re a great football team,” Gaglia said, about the Quakers. “We have a tremendous amount of respect for them. I think we can compete with them. It’s going to be one heck of a ball game, next Friday.”

After not scoring a single point against the Falcons in the teams’ meeting back in September – a 23 – 0 loss – Lockport came out firing, to open the scoring. Receiver Charlie Sobieraski scored on a 13-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Tyler Fraass, 3:40 into the game.

Nick Hamilton pushed the lead to 13 – 0, on a 62-yard touchdown rush. Coon and the Falcons answered back 2:37 later, when the senior got into open space and scored from 48 yards out.

Lockport got its two-score lead back, when Fraass found Sobieraski for a 50-yard touchdown, connection with 3:16 left in the second quarter and the Lions went to the half up 21 – 7. But they were not ready for the second-half Falcons.

“That was a heck of a better effort than we showed against them in week three,” an emotional Lockport head coach Greg Bronson said. “We said for a long time that we were a better team than that. That became evident today.”

Coon had 17 rushes for 121 yards and 2 touchdowns, to lead the team. Gaglia finished with 22 carries for 88 yards and a rushing touchdown and was 6 of 15 for 63 yards, through the air. Kenny Kahler rushed eight times for 65 yards. A.J. Licata paced a defensive effort, during the second half, and finished the game with eight tackles (four for a loss) and a sack. In addition to his game-tying defensive score, Kevin Hamilton had seven tackles and a fumble recovery.
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