BY STEVE LYNCH Special to The Californian
From a 1-3 start to Southwest Yosemite League champions. Frontier completed its remarkable run to close the regular season, winning its sixth consecutive game Friday night by edging Independence 21-13.
Frontier's ball-control offense scored three touchdowns and chewed up the clock while its defense held Independence star quarterback Preston Hodges to 131 totals yards.
"It didn't look great for us (at 1-3) but we felt like we had a good team," Frontier coach Rich Cornford said. "We didn't make a lot of the mistakes that we were making early on. Again, when you play really good competition they expose everything you need to work on and we had a lot to work on. And we worked on it and got better at it. ... The tough preseason really helped us."
Justin Cash had 182 yards from scrimmage and a pair of touchdowns for the visiting Titans (7-3, 5-0 SWYL), who grabbed the lead early and then held on against the determined Falcons.
Down 21-13, Independence (5-5, 1-4 SWYL) got the ball back with 4:12 remaining in the game after forcing Frontier to punt.
But after managing one first down to the Independence 44-yard line, Hodges fired four consecutive incomplete passes, the last one was caught by Derek Check just out of bounds, negating a long gain.
"They're really well-coached," Cornford said. "They had a good scheme coming in, a lot of twisting and slanting. Hats off to them. Offensively, Hodges, that kid is fantastic. He's as a good as they get. We're happy to hold them to 13 points here."
The Titans pulled ahead 21-6 with a pair of third quarter touchdowns.
First, Evan Moore capped off a nine-play, 65-yard drive with a 28-yard touchdown run. Moore scampered around the left side untouched after executing a perfect fake handoff to Cash up the middle.
The Titans upped their lead later in the quarter to 21-6 when Cash scored on a 55-yard screen pass from Moore. Cash broke several tackles on his way to the end zone.
Moore rushed for 98 yards on nine carries. The junior quarterback also connected on 6-of-11 pass attempts for 97 yards.
"It's huge," Moore said of Frontier winning SWYL title. "It's the first time in school history. It's one of the best leagues in the state. I couldn't be happier with my team, my linemen. The defense played great today stopping Preston, who is a great quarterback."
Hodges had both of Independence's touchdowns but was unable to break away for any long plays.
He finished with 17 carries for 65 yards, while completing 3-of-11 pass attempts for 66 yards.
"Our team played hard," Independence coach Sean McKeown said. "We came into this week's game saying we needed to focus on three things: playing fast, playing hard, and the details.
"Tonight the details caught up with us, jumping offsides, dropped a couple of passes. Those little things that make the difference when you play a great team like Frontier."
Frontier led 7-6 at halftime. Turnovers were costly to both teams in the first half.
Cash carried the ball on eight of the 12 plays during the opening possession, capping things off with a 3-yard scamper up the middle.