FRONTENAC — The Frontenac High School football team won the sub-state matchup against the Hayden Wildcats 37-21 on Friday.
The game was tied at 21-all for a majority of the second half, but the Raiders pulled away in the fourth quarter on the strength of a pair of interceptions which were returned for touchdowns.
“I’m very proud of the kids,” FHS head coach Mark Smith said. “We kept bending and bending, but would not break. We showed our leadership and experience. Our seniors kept our team together, we kept our composure and we made some great plays.”
Frontenac drew first blood five minutes into the opening quarter, scoring on a 5-yard touchdown run by Peyton Brown after the Raiders’ defense forced a three-and-out to begin the game.
Hayden answered back with a touchdown of their own on the strength of a 71-yard pass from Sampson Huston to DeShawn Hanika, but couldn’t convert the point-after, keeping the score at 7-6.
The Wildcats went on to take the lead at 14-7, following a 42-yard touchdown pass and a successful 2-point conversion.
Hayden drove the ball into the red zone after shortly after scoring its second touchdown, but a fumble scooped up by FHS shifted the momentum.
The Raiders took advantage of the extra possession, as they drove down the field and tied the game at 14-all thanks to a 13-yard touchdown run by Jake Wilbert.
Wilbert followed it up with a 4-yard touchdown run — following an interception by Brendan Ishimura — to give Frontenac the lead at 21-14.
With the clock winding down in the second quarter, the Wildcats quickly drove the ball down the field and scored a touchdown to tie the score at 21-all at the half.
Neither team could gain much momentum in the third quarter, but the Raiders took control of the contest in the fourth, after Riley McDaniel intercepted a pass and ran 95 yards into the end zone to put Frontenac on top 28-21.
The Raiders went on to score two more times in the fourth quarter to seal the win.
Trey Harris increased Frontenac’s lead to 10 on a 30-yard field goal, before Ishimura intercepted a pass and ran it 97 yards into the end zone for a pick-six.
“Both picks were from pressure up front,” Smith said. “We had guys that made some plays when we needed to. Our kids are very resilient at times and I am very proud of them.”
The Raiders will take on Holcomb at 1 p.m. on Nov. 25 at Salina in the state championship game.