REISTERSTOWN — When RJ Scott transferred from Tuscarora to Frederick High last year, he was getting some sideways stares.
“Everyone called me crazy. People were like, ‘Why are you going to Frederick High? They are just a bunch of losers,’” Scott recalled. “I was like, ‘You are going to see.’”
People saw, all right.
They saw Scott put himself in position to make one of the plays of the season for the Frederick High football team, and they saw the ball suddenly laying at his feet after a backward pass was mishandled by the opposition and nothing but open field standing between him and the end zone.
“I was telling myself, ‘Don’t fall. Tuck the ball tight and just run like hell,’” the senior defensive end said.
Scott’s 52-yard fumble return for a touchdown with less than three minutes to play sealed a win for the ages Friday night for Frederick High.
The Cadets (10-2) advanced to their first state semifinal in football since 1985 with a 49-38 road win over three-time state champion Franklin.
They will face unbeaten Linganore (11-0) next week for the chance to play in the Class 3A championship game for the first time since they were the Class A runner up in that ‘85 season.
“Can’t wait,” said Cadets coach Kevin Pirri, who hopes his team can turn the tables on the Lancers after it fell 28-14 in the earlier meeting on Oct. 15.
Frederick will ride into that game with plenty of momentum and confidence after overcoming a 10-point halftime deficit and dominating Franklin (9-3) in the second half with its offensive line and running game.
Sophomore running back Tae Anderson finished with 300 yards and four touchdowns on 45 carries.
His 5-yard scoring run with 10 minutes, 47 seconds to play gave Frederick its first lead at 35-31. And then, after Franklin retook the lead with the touchdown, Anderson fueled a 9-play, 60-yard scoring drive that was capped by the game-winning touchdown by senior Chris Metevia on a 13-yard run.
On that pivotal drive, Anderson converted third-and-3 from the Franklin 29 with a 16-yard drive.
“We took the opportunity and ran with it,” Anderson said. “We played a great game.”
Frederick dominated possession so much in the third quarter that Franklin only ran three offensive plays during that period.
The Cadets opened the second half with a drive that consumed almost seven minutes and was capped by Anderson’s third touchdown of the game, this one from 2 yards out.
“I would say that my offensive line and my fullback [Josh Hayward] led the way,” Anderson said.
Frederick overcame three turnovers and an explosive Franklin offense to advance.
It looked like Anderson was going to score on a 52-yard run midway through the first quarter. But the ball was punched out of his hands by Franklin’s Gavin Nelson at the goal line and bounced out of the back of the end zone for a touchback.
On the very next play, the Indians’ dynamic running back, Rodney Nelson, took a short screen pass from quarterback Quentin Demery and sliced through the Frederick defense for a 70-yard touchdown.
It was the second of four touchdowns in the game for Nelson and provided a dramatic 14-point swing that could have buried a lesser team.
But Frederick was able to shake it off.
For the record, both Anderson and the Cadets’ coaching staff believed he had crossed the goal line with the ball on that play, and Anderson said he began to let up when the ball was knocked out of his hands because he thought he was in the end zone already.
“We have seen adversity,” Pirri said. “These seniors, they have seen adversity every game for the last four years. They see it every day in school. They see it in their personal lives. It was just a matter of our guys are tougher when the time crunch happens, and we were tougher than Franklin tonight.”