For the sophomore quarterback, it was satisfaction knowing such a young team could win such a big game.

For the sophomore quarterback, it was satisfaction knowing such a young team could win such a big game.

For the junior linebacker, the focus was to make plays on defense.

For the senior running back, he thanked his teammates for the opportunity to play one more game.

Frontenac, overcoming an 0-7 start to the season, earned a 46-22 victory over Erie Thursday night at the Frontenac Sports Complex and in the process, punched a ticket into the KSHSAA Class 3A playoffs as the District 3 runner-up.

The Raiders (2-7) will travel to District 4 champion Wellsville (8-1) for a 7 p.m. Bi-district championship game Tuesday.

Erie – despite victories over district champion Southeast last week and Northeast – ends its season at 2-7.

Devon Keith, the sophomore quarterback, rushed for four touchdowns including two in the fourth quarter, threw for another and guided the Raiders running game to its second 400-plus yard output grounding out 458 yards on 63 carries.

Luke Dainty, the junior linebacker, had two key fourth quarter takeaways, a fumble recovery and interception, two of the four Frontenac takeaways that included a pair of fumble recoveries by Ross Edge.

Keaton Brown, the senior wingback, grounded out a game-high 171 yards on 14 carries with a pair of decisive fourth-quarter touchdown runs only 21 seconds apart.

“This feels good; to be able to come out, run the ball, enforce your will on the opponent, we did what we had to do to win and we had to run the ball,” said Brown who broke touchdown runs of 61 and 47 yards on back-to-back carries sandwiched around Dainty’s leaping interception.

“Like coach said, our playoffs started tonight. This was a playoff game for us and it was great to see our offense, especially our offensive line, and our defense came together and play as well as they did tonight.”

The Frontenac defense limited Erie to 10 offensive snaps in the first half in building a 22-8 lead. The Red Devils scored its touchdown on their second play from scrimmage, a 61 yard zone dive play by junior halfback Keith Marquardt.

The Raiders scored on its opening possession driving 72 yards in 10 plays with Keith scoring on a 3-yard draw play.

Frontenac’s next two scoring drives needed to go only 26 and 22 yards with Edge recovery a fumbled handoff and fumbled punt.

Keith scored his second touchdown, this one on an 18 yard quarterback counter play, on the first play of the second quarter and added a 12 yard touchdown pass to sophomore tight end Taylor Johnson on fourth down with 4:04 left in the half for a 22-8 lead.

The Red Devils trimmed Frontenac’s lead in the third quarter converting on the Raiders only turnover of the game with senior quarterback Rowdy Kyser scoring on a one-yard keeper with 4:31 left in the quarter.

Erie had a chance to pull event in the fourth quarter after forcing Frontenac to punt away its next possession, however after picking up a first down, Dainty recovered a fumbled pitch at the Erie 36 and on the next play, Keith broke another quarterback counter play for a 36 yard touchdown and a 28-14 lead.

Following an Erie three-and-out, the Raiders needed three plays to score again with Brown breaking a wingback sweep play down the left sideline for a 61 yard touchdown and a 34-14 lead.

Dainty jumped in front of a Kyser pass on the Red Devils next offensive snap setting up Brown’s next touchdown run, this time a 47 yard play that started as a wingback iso right that he cut back to his right, broke a tackle in the secondary and leaped into the end zone for the touchdown.

Erie’s final touchdown was a 33 yard strike from Kyser to Marquardt with 3:33 remaining. A failed onside kick attempt led to Keith’s final touchdown of the game, a 44-yard quarterback draw.

“We knew Erie was going to bring a lot of pressure off the edge and up the middle,” Keith said. “Our guys up front did a good job blocking it and we were able to break some big plays; when they started bringing more pressure with their outside linebackers, the coaches called a few plays that worked effectively against the pressure.”

Added Dainty about the defensive effort, “We had to have it. We knew we had to make some stops on defense and let our offense stay on the field and run the ball. A number of guys made plays tonight (Keaton) had a couple of pass breakups, (Shannon Wiseman) broke up a couple passes, (Hunter Mulherin) and (Dylan Plouvier) made some key tackles on second and third down. It was a team effort, across the board.”

Junior fullback Kyler Vena added 102 yards rushing on 20 carries as the third Frontenac back to break 100 yards rushing in the game.

“It starts with those guys up front,” said Frontenac head coach Kevin Carey calling out the offensive line of Kylor McCartney, John Murray, Cody Lindbloom, Brett, Macary and Clinton Cheney.

“We know to be successful, we have to run the ball and we cannot run the ball and do what we want to do on offense without those guys up front playing smart, controlling the line and making plays.”

With the victories in district play, Southeast and Frontenac become the 98th and 99th teams respectively from Crawford County to qualify for the KSHSAA playoffs since the start of the current playoff system began in 1969.