In first week of playoffs, Bulldogs trump Lopes 24-21
Written by: Jenna Engel on Saturday, November 3rd, 2018
For the first time in Freedom history, the Bulldogs had their first home playoff game on Nov. 2. As the District 7 2A co-section champs, Freedom geared up to face Avonworth with ecstatic Bulldog fans cheering in the stands.
Starting off the drives for the night was senior Cody Ross who made it to the end zone with a 16-yard run. Shortly thereafter, Avonworth evened the score when senior Turner Grau received a 21-yard pass from Lopes’ quarterback, Derek Johncour. By the end of the first quarter, Freedom was up 14-7.
The Bulldogs were quick on their return to the end zone, though, with senior quarterback Zach Rosa calling his own number, scoring for Freedom with a 64-yard run not even a minute after Avonworth’s retaliation.
Going into the second quarter, Avonworth started off the scoring plays when freshman Neo Miller had a 2-yard rush to the end zone. While that was the end of the action for the half, when the boys returned to the field, Zach Rosa again called his own number in the opening minutes of the third quarter.
With a 22-yard run this time, Zach Rosa gave Freedom the leg-up on the Lopes marking the score as 21-14.
“It was just a designed run for me. I got a couple of good blocks from Max Ujhazy and Jake Pail, so, and then I bounced off of a couple good tackles,” Zach Rosa said.
Freedom’s running game was admittedly strong, according to the stats. With 61 rushes for a total of 303 yards, the Bulldogs far surpassed the Lopes who only had 21 rushes for 63 yards. On the other end of the spectrum, though, Avonworth exceeded Freedom’s 3 completed passes for 26 yards with 15 completed passes totaling 255 yards.
Senior Jake Pail led the Bulldogs in rushing yards with 20 carries for a total of 134 yards.
“In the third and fourth quarter I knew that crunch time was coming and I told the guys ‘It’s crunch time, so let’s just get rolling,’ I wasn’t trying to do anything fancy, just put my head down and get those hard yards,” Pail said.
As the clock wound down to start the fourth quarter, the game became a nail biter. Going back and forth on scoring plays, it was time for Freedom to switch it up a bit.
With 11:12 left on the clock for the night, senior Nick DiNardo kicked a 41-yard field goal for the Bulldogs, marking the score as 24-14, Freedom.
In the fourth quarter, a blindside tackle knocked Zach Rosa to the ground, unable to get up. He was then taken out for the remainder of the game.
“I was just trying to get up and whenever I felt like I couldn’t I was just hoping that the team could finish the win,” Zach Rosa said. “I didn’t care about anything else at that point.”
After DiNardo’s field goal, the Lopes had one more scoring drive, putting up another seven points for Avonworth, but it wasn’t enough. The Bulldogs finished out the game victorious over the Lopes with a final score of 24-21.
“Our kids played their hearts out. I feel bad for Avonworth, they played a great game too, they’re a good football team. Their offense is incredible, but our defense just played outstanding,” interim head coach John Rosa said. “Everybody ran the ball hard and played great on defense, and Nick’s field goal was incredible.”
On Nov. 9, the Bulldogs head to Central Valley to take on Burgettstown for the second round of playoffs. The game starts at 7:30.
As for the remainder of their playoff season, John Rosa is hopeful.
“It’s just awesome to move on and win a playoff game and get to the second round,” John Rosa said. “We gotta keep it going and this is like surreal for me… it’s like, I’m a part of this and these kids are counting on me so I got to step up. We’re just going to keep it going and hopefully win another one.”
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