HUNTINGTON - It’s almost as if Blake and Eric Frohnapfel drew up the play in the dirt.
The twin brothers have run this pass route hundreds of times in their backyard. Late in Marshall’s Sept. 8 game against Western Carolina, from the Catamounts’ 29-yard line, Blake faded back, Eric ran a little up-and-out route and Blake fired the pass in his brother’s direction.
This had possible touchdown written all over it. Who saw that coming?
Actually, their dad -- Steve -- did.
“When Blake drops back to pass, I always check the receivers,” Steve Frohnapfel said.
“I felt like they were going to give Eric a shot. I said please let this happen.”
Eric hauled in the pass at about the 10, broke a Catamount tackle inside the 5 and raced into the end zone. How many twins in NCAA history can say they hooked up on a touchdown combination?
To date, research has discovered only one pair – Dan and Dave Buckey at North Carolina State in the early 1970s.
“When the ball’s in the air, it was almost like we were little kids again,” Blake Frohnapfel said. “It was awesome. Not too many people can say they threw their first touchdown to their twin brother.” Let the Frohnapfel family celebration begin.
“Everybody (in the Edwards Stadium stands) was high-fiving us,” Steve Frohnapfel said.
“All the fans behind us were congratulating us because we’re in the parents’ zone and everyone knows who our kids are, and we were going crazy.
“So I missed the guys’ celebration in the end zone. Luckily, a photographer got a shot of it. I bought a big picture.”
In all, there were seven Frohnapfel family members in the stands that night including Mom Lynn, Dad Steve and Grandmother Lorrain.
“I could hear them screaming for about five minutes afterwards,” Blake Frohnapfel said. “I’m sure it’s something they’ll talk about for a long time.”
As impressive as that touchdown was, when the Frohnapfels retired to the sideline, it dawned on Eric that the TD pass wasn’t even the highlight of the drive. Earlier, Blake had set out on a quarterback run during which he absolutely leveled Western Carolina safety Christon Gill.
“Everyone’s coming to the sidelines and congratulating us,” Eric Frohnapfel said, “and I was like ‘Hey that truck job was, I think, themost impressive part of that drive. To see a quarterback do that, you don’t see that often. That was awesome.”
This brother act has been quite entertaining to watch, even in its college football infancy. By Dad’s admission, he can’t remember a time when Blake and Eric weren’t playing ball with each other. They grew up in a family of athletes with good genes, and so it was easy to tell where these guys were heading.
Both are 6 feet 6, and according to Marshall’s roster, only separated by 2 pounds. Even with the athletic bloodlines in the family, Dad’s always passed out some sage advice.
“I told all my kids, you’ll never make a dime playing sports,” Steve Frohnapfel said. “Do it for fun, and be a good student, and a good person.”
Blake and Eric have listened well, even if there’s still a sibling rivalry there. They each hurl brotherly insults at the other in a rapid-fire barrage, in a way only brothers can. Blake is 18 minutes older. Eric might suggest that’s how long he had to wait on that touchdown pass to arrive.
Blake would counter that’s the first time he’s ever seen Eric break a tackle. Neither brother really wins in the trash talking contest thatnever ends. Call it a split decision.
That they ended up at Marshall together was a bit of Herd good fortune. Eric had committed to West Virginia, but when Dana Holgorsen brought his offense to Morgantown, it didn’t have much room for a tight end. So, Eric reconsidered and followed his brother to Huntington.
“There was so much drama in the recruiting process,” Steve Frohnapfel said. “To have them decide to play together, and it was their decision, is great. That moment against Western Carolina wouldn’t have happened.”
In the postgame scrum for Frohnapfel quotes in the media interview room, the question was posed, “Who picks up the tab for lunch tomorrow?”
“Ummm, I guess I’ll buy him lunch because he did make a guy miss and show he’s a bit of an athlete,” Blake said.
“He did truck a guy,” the tight end twin said, “so I guess he can buy mine and I can buy his.”
Might be easier to just ask Mom and Dad to foot the bill. On this night, the Frohnapfel boys earned it.