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Freedom wraps up Homecoming weekend with win against Neshannock, 28-7

Written by: on Monday, October 15th, 2018


With the Homecoming festivities underway for Freedom, the Bulldogs had an eventful Saturday night. The ceremony before the game crowned the team’s own defensive back Riley Adams as Homecoming King, and the Freedom “Big Red” Marching Band feature twirler, Melissa Keith, as Homecoming Queen.

Adams was quick to get on the field though, remarking to his parents that “I have a game to get to.”

With that being said, the Bulldogs took the field against the Lancers. About halfway through the first quarter, senior Cody Ross made it to the end zone for Freedom. The extra point attempt from senior Nick DiNardo was good, putting up 7 points for the Bulldogs.

The rest of the quarter was uneventful, with no other scoring runs by either team. In the beginning minutes

Senior Jake Pail (21) escapes a tackle attempt from a Neshannock player. Pail led the team in rushing yards with 115 yards covered. He also led the Bulldogs in touchdowns with two of the four for the night, one of which was rushing, the other receiving.

of the second quarter, though, senior Noah Yeck received a 41-yard touchdown pass from senior Zach Rosa.

Yeck admittedly had a rough start to the game, with his first dropped pass of the season in the first quarter.

“I took it a little rough at first but you just have to clear your mind and I’m not used to dropping the ball, but it happens,” Yeck said. “I was a little mad about myself, but I cleared my mind and bounced back.”

The second quarter redemption for Yeck was a good boost of momentum for the team, according to senior Jake Pail, who also scored a touchdown in the second quarter with a 10-yard pass from Rosa.

“It’s a whole team effort. I wouldn’t be able to do it without the big guys up front with Rosa passing the ball to me like perfectly on the money like every time. It makes it a lot easier on my part,” Pail said.

Pail’s performance on the field was stellar, seeing as though he was the rushing leader of the game with 16 carries for a total of 115 yards.

With 2:07 left in the first half, Rosa threw an interception pass to the Lancers. After a couple of drives, senior Noah Karpiak made it to the end zone for Neshannock with 29.2 seconds remaining on the clock.

Karpiak closed out the quarter with his 1-yard run as the score read 21-7, Freedom, going into the half-time show.

The next scoring drive came from Pail again with an 8-yard rush to the end zone in the fourth quarter. Pail was the last to reach the end zone for the game, marking the final score as 28-7, Freedom. This week’s win was refreshing for the boys because of the close game against New Brighton last week, as Pail said.

“This is what we needed after a close game after New Brighton, like 16-14, this is what we needed,” Pail said. “It’s good to see that offense put up more points this week and I think it’s just really easy to build off of.”

With this win, the Bulldogs have clinched their first home playoff game in Freedom history. Their strategy for playoffs is going to be similar to the one they’ve had all season: have the offense put points up on the board and be defensively strong, according to Pail. First, though, the team has to make it through the last two weeks of regular season.

Senior Cody Ross (43) poses with head coach Russ Barley after the Bulldog victory against Neshannock on Oct. 13. Both Ross and Barley are excited for playoffs, seeing as though this is the first time in Freedom history the Bulldogs have clinched a home playoff game.

Next week, Freedom takes on Apollo Ridge for a 7:30 match up with the Vikings.

“All we know is that it’s Apollo Ridge and they run a thousand formations and are not in our league. We’ve just gotten the chance to look at them a little bit. They’re presenting a little bit of a different problem because they spread out all over the place,” head coach Russ Barley said. “They like to throw the ball, it’s a little different, but it’s at home…To us right now, everything matters.”

As of playoffs, the players and coaches are excited go into post-season.

“It’s what I live for, it’s why I’ve been doing this,” Barley said. “It’s been a long, long time since Freedom’s been 9 and 1, so that’s our thing. We want to get that.”

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