WARRENSBURG - With 39 seconds left on the clock and a tied game Saturday, Warrensburg High School Quarterback Brendan Frye kept the football on a option play and cut back and forth four times over 48 yards through Fort Edward territory for a touchdown that turned a tied game into a 24-16 victory.
The jersey he was wearing as he ran into the right corner of the end zone belonged to Freshman teammate Nolan Maltbie, because his standard No. 12 had been torn to shreds earlier by aggressive Fort Edward tacklers.
The jersey left no doubt that Frye endured some punishment in this season-opener for the Burghers, as he ran 107 yards in 17 carries.
Warrensburg Coach Mike Leonbruno said Monday that Frye earned his playmaker status earlier, by his gritty performance in pre-season practices.
"Brendan was throwing well, making good reads, and he got the job," Leonbruno said.
In Saturday's game, Fort Edward initially put forth a sustained offensive attack that put Burgher fans on edge.
On the Forts' first possession of the game, they drove for 17 plays - but the Burghers halted them at the 13 yard line.
The ball changes hands several times, and the first quarter ended 0-0 - but the Forts had run 24 plays and Warrensburg, only three, Assistant Coach Rex Reynolds said.
"At this point, we thought 'Uh-Oh!" Reynolds said.
Two Fort Edward fumbles in the second quarter led to a Brendan Frye 10-yard pass to Sophomore Hunter Werner, wide open in the end zone, for his first Varsity touchdown. Frye ran it in for the conversion.
Fort Edward then continued their offensive show, with four pass completions in 6 plays, including a 32-yarder.
Their airplay then hit a headwind when Burgher Mike Curtis intercepted and returned the ball for a 13-yard gain.
In the third quarter, the Burghers scored a touchdown in a seven-play drive which included two runs by Mike Perrone totalling 22 yards. The Burghers capped it off with Frye hitting David Boodman for a 15-yard touchdown. Boodman ran with the ball for two extra points, and the Burghers led 16-0.
On the next kickoff, the Forts' special team fired back with a 65-yard return for a touchdown, which they converted.
In the fourth quarter, Warrensburg enjoyed a sustained 12-play drive, ending up with a fourth-down crunch with 6 yards to go on the 16-yard line. Frye threw the ball into the end-zone, and Fort Edward intercepted and ran it back 55 yards. Within three plays, they'd scored a touchdown, and the score was tied with 60 seconds on the clock.
"We were sure the game would go into overtime," Reynolds said.
Then on the ensuing kickoff, David Boodman returned the ball 37 yards, to the Forts' 48-yard line, setting up the final zig-zag, game-winning run by Frye .
Leonbruno said the Burgher veer play, a dive option, worked well. Mike Perrone led the rushing attack with 109 yards on 22 carries.
While Leonbruno praised Frye and back Jason Power and other individuals, he said the team as a whole fell short of expectations. The team needs to be more aggressive, he said.
"We've started out the season looking like we don't want to play ball - it's scary - but we ended up getting the win."
After the game, Leonbruno told the pumped-up players that their potential this season was unlimited.
"I told them as long as we're undefeated, we're state champion and league champion contenders - we can accomplish anything we want."
The Burgher gridiron squad's next game is Friday versus Rensselaer, away at 7 p.m.