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Freedom breaks winning streak in loss against Mohawk, 27-21

Written by: on Saturday, September 15th, 2018


Starting off the season 3-0, the Bulldogs had high hopes as they traveled to Mohawk High School on Friday night, but were not successful against the Warriors, who came straight out of the gate with a touchdown off of the opening kick-off. Sophomore Jacob Mollenkopf was on the 94-yard return for Mohawk. The extra point kick, however, failed.

It was a hard loss for Freedom, according to coaches and players. Coming off the win from last week’s game against Riverside, the boys were admittedly less focused this time around.

“Basically, everybody’s got to come in with the mindset that we had against Riverside. We were definitely a lot more focused last week,” senior Cody Ross said. “We fell asleep on them today, but we’ll come back next week against Ellwood.”

Senior Zach Rosa (5) carries the ball for Freedom while juniors Noah Valles (59) and Joey Leasha (77) attempt to block Mohawk players going in for a sack.

After the first touchdown for Mohawk, the Warriors returned to the end zone with 6:12 left in the first, marking the score as 13-0. Freedom’s starting defensive lineman, junior Kevin Lawrence got injured. With a potentially sprained ankle, he was out for the rest of the game, admittedly a “bad blow” to the Bulldogs defense, according to head coach, Russ Barley.

“It [Kevin’s injury]  took away a lot of the things that we are good at doing,” Barley said.  “Kevin is probably our best guard and probably our best all around lineman on both sides of the ball. For him to go down, it hurt us on both sides.”

In the second quarter, Mohawk scored again, updating the score to 20-0, Warriors, closing out the half.

During the half-time break, the Bulldogs rethought their strategy and came back into the game with some expectations. With 8:02 left in the third quarter, senior Jake Pail had an 18-yard touchdown reception, giving the team a glimpse of hope.

Even after Mohawk scored again in the third, Freedom kept pushing through with another two scoring plays in the fourth quarter by Ross and senior Noah Henderson, respectively.

“It [the touchdown] felt good, we were still down a couple of points so we just tried to bounce back and rally off those points, but it wasn’t enough, so we have to come back next week,” Ross said. “When we made them turn over on downs, and then Hendo caught that touchdown; we definitely thought we could get the ball back, but sometimes things don’t go your way.”

Senior Jake Pail (21) shakes off multiple Mohawk defense men with the aid of senior Tanner Boyer (50) on the coverage.

Senior quarterback, Zach Rosa turned around the game with his passes, according to Barley. This has been the most Rosa has passed thus far in the season with 17 attempted passes and 9 completed for a total of 168 yards.

“I thought Zach Rosa played one heck of a game, particularly in the second half… We did a good job switching gears into something a little bit different in the second half,” Barley said. “I thought we made a couple nice adjustments in the second half. The kids played hard, I will give them all of the credit in the world for that. We just ran out of time.”

Next week, the Bulldogs take on the Wolverines at Ellwood City for a 7:00 match up. While they hope to bounce back, the boys won’t take this game lightly.

“There’s not a team in this league that you can take a week off on because they’ll come and get you,” Barley said. “There’s a lot of good coaches in this league and a lot of good players in this league; It’s going to be a tough football game, and we know that.”

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