In a game dominated by both defenses, it was two big plays by Western Tech senior Jaylen Frazier that proved to be the difference in the Wolverines' 20-14 victory over host Lansdowne on Friday night.
Frazier caught a 51-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Zach Jefferts with six minutes left until halftime to give the Wolverines a 14-0 lead and he sealed the triumph with a 93-yard interception return for a touchdown with 1:37 left that stretched the Western Tech lead to 20-6.
Lansdowne’s Jerald Hurt returned the ensuing kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown and Jerrell Simkins ran for the two-point conversion to make it 20-14 with 1:15 left.
But Lansdowne’s onside kick failed and the Wolverines ran out the clock.
Lansdowne had a chance to take an early lead, but Hurt was nudged out of bounds heading to the endzone after a 28-yard gain.
Four plays later, Ethan Yeager caught a 28-yard touchdown pass from freshman quarterback Brandon Burnopp, but the played was nullified by a illegal formation penalty.
Western Tech’s defense stiffened after that play, led by senior Jayden Carr, junior Ike Kalu and Kai Smith, who had a pair of sacks.
Smith's second sack forced a punt and the Wolverines went on a 59-yard scoring drive.
Frazier had an 18-yard run and Jeffers scampered 28 yards to set up a 9-yard scoring run by Kalu early in the second quarter.
Kalu, a dominant wrestler for the Wolverines, carried three defenders into the end zone on the play and he ran in the two-point conversion for an 8-0 lead.
“Ike is a strong kid and he has a college body and he just needs to understand how to play football and that’s why we keep giving him the ball, because it’s going to benefit him and it’s going to benefit us,” Western Tech coach Alan Lagon said.
Another Lansdowne drive stalled, thanks to solid play on the defensive line by Justin Parker, Nigel Marboah, Cameron O’Grady and Kalu.
Lansdowne fumbled on the drive and Kalu recovered. On the next play, Jeffers connected with Frazier for the 51-yard scoring strike and 14-0 lead.
“It was between me and my quarterback,” Frazier said. “We just had that connection. We worked on it in practice and coach told us it was going to be open and it just happened to be open and I scored.”
The two-point conversion failed and quarterback Jeffers injured his ankle and was lost for the game. Jayden Carr took over the signal-calling duties.
On Lansdowne’s next possession, Burnopp’s slant pass to Phebus Floyd netted nine yards and on the next play Hurt ran up the middle for a 52-yard touchdown.
Hurt gained 92 yards on 15 carries, but 83 came in the first half.
Lansdowne gained just 105 total yards, including only 29 in the second half.
“Our defense did a great job,” Lagon said. “A lot of kids really stepped up and we had opportunities and it was because of our defense.”
Frazier had one big solo defensive stop when he tackled Hurt for a 1-yard gain on fourth and four from the Western Tech 36-yard line.
It was a rare solo tackle for Western Tech.
“We really work on that a lot. We tell everybody to gang tackle and that’s what we go out and do,” Frazier said.
Frazier had a sack on the Vikings last possession of the third quarter, but he saved his biggest defensive plays for the fourth quarter.
With 5:35 left in the fourth quarter, Frazier had an 80-yard interception return of a pass by Burnopp, but the played was called back because of a roughing the passer penalty.
Burnopp left the game with a slight back injury and he was replaced by tight end Marcus Sessoms.
With 1:37 left in the game, Frazier struck again when he intercepted a pass and raced 93 yards down the sideline.
“It was just another touchdown I could get. I just had to go for it,” Frazier said.
Scoring touchdowns is not unusual for Frazier, who scored 22 touchdowns on the JV as a sophomore.
“I think he’s one of the best all-around players in the county,” Lagon said “He can do pretty much anything and he has been doing that for some time.”
Hurt is that type of player for Lansdowne and he returned the kickoff for a score near the end of the game even though the Wolverines were trying to kick away from him.
“I saw him back up and we missed a lot of tackles and he is a great running back,” Lagon said. “If you miss him, he’s gone. That’s how he scored on the one run. You miss a tackle and he is going to take off.”
Lansdowne’s defense allowed Western Tech to gain 186 yards, but they gained only 33 in the second half.
“I couldn’t be more proud of them, the way they stepped up,” Lansdowne coach Shaun Murphy said. “Western Tech is a very good team. We are progressing. I’m proud of our guys.”
Lansdowne’s second game is at Catonsville on Friday, Sept. 8 (7 p.m.).
“I’m excited because this is the least amount of mistakes I’ve seen from one of our teams in game one,” Murphy said. “We were right there, a couple of false start penalties and a couple of formation penalties and they’re going to happen in game one.”
Western Tech will play at Kenwood at 6 p.m. on Sept. 8.