ERIE -- In Erie's first game without injured Ryne Atkins, it almost seemed like the standout fullback was out on the field anyway.
Only this one was wearing a Frederick uniform.
The host Tigers had no answer for Ryan Miller on Friday night, as the Warriors senior seemingly picked up every crucial first down in Frederick's 21-7 win at frostbit Tigers Stadium.
"He's a good running back and a good athlete, no doubt about it," Erie senior Pedro Anderson said. "He runs hard and it was hard to take him down."
In fairness, the 6-foot-2, 215-pound Miller is a lot bigger than the 185-pound Atkins, who suffered a broken leg last week against Northridge. But the senior ran with similar authority and helped the Warriors (4-2, 1-0) win the grind-it-out Class 3A Northern League opener.
"We have mad respect for Erie," Miller said. "Their offense is great. You have to hit them in the mouth or they'll run all over you."
Instead, Miller did that to Erie.
He ran for 140 yards on 16 carries, including an 8-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Perhaps the most crucial of his runs, however, was a 14-yard burst to the Erie 29 that gave Frederick a key first down with 3 minutes, 29 seconds remaining.
It allowed the Warriors to keep their drive alive and extend a 14-7 lead. They clinched things with a 12-yard TD run by Jaron Balman (one of two quarterbacks used by Frederick) with 44 seconds left.
"First off, I have to give all the credit to the linemen," Miller said. "Without them, I wouldn't have been able to do what I did."
Erie showed grit despite having a goose egg on the scoreboard for 3-1/2 quarters. Trailing 14-0, the Tigers sliced the deficit in half on a 1-yard run by Atkins' replacement, Joey Toney, with 6:30 to play.
The Tigers had two enormous penalties on the ensuing drive, however -- a defensive holding and a personal foul -- which helped allow the Warriors march to their clinching touchdown.
"We started out a bit rusty at the beginning and unfortunately it was too late when we started rolling," Anderson said. "We just couldn't get going early enough."
Frederick, the preseason No. 1, has fallen out of the rankings. But this performance might help the Warriors climb back in.
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FREDERICK 21, ERIE 7
At Erie H.S.
Frederick (4-2, 1-0) 6 8 0 7 -- 21
Erie (4-2, 0-1) 0 0 0 7 -- 7
Frederick -- Jacob Sleeth 1 run (run failed).
Frederick -- Ryan Miller 8 run (Jaron Balman run).
Erie -- Joey Toney 1 run (Ethan Mezler kick).
Frederick -- Balman 12 run (Jose Rosales kick).
First downs 14 14
Rushes-yards 46-214 43-188
Passing yards 41 44
Comp-Att-Int 3-7-0 5-11-2
Fumbles-Lost 4-1 1-0
Penalties-Yards 5-50 6-55
RUSHING -- Frederick: Miller 16-140, Sleeth 16-29, Balman 5-20, Gomez 4-13, Broz 4-10, Lindberg 1-2; Erie: Anderson 11-48, Toney 9-52, Mickey 7-31, Jensen 6-20, Ramey 5-14, Lyle 2-20, True 1-3.
PASSING (comp-att-int-yards) -- Frederick: Balman 2-4-0, 21 yards, Broz 1-3-0, 20 yards; Erie: Lyle 4-9-2, 44 yards, Ramey 1-1-0, 0 yards, Mickey 0-1-0, 0 yards.
RECEIVING -- Frederick: Broz 2-21, Balman 1-20; Erie: Anderson 2-24, Mickey 1-16, Tallman 1-4, Schwab 1-0.