By PATRICK CASEY
The Freeport Bulldogs played host to the Walton Braves in the 2011 high school football Kickoff Classic on Friday night and took away a 14-3 victory.
Sophomore Gabe Moore played well in his first start as he threw for 105 yards and a touchdown while running for 43 yards and another score in the contest.
Walton took an early 3-0 lead as Alex Brack drilled a 27-yard field goal with 4:30 left in the first quarter after Braves quarterback Chris Kelly raced 74 yards to the Freeport 5-yard line to put Walton in the red zone. Penalties stifled the Braves’ attempts to punch the ball into the endzone as they settled for the only three points they would score in the game.
The game turned in the second quarter when Walton fielded a low punt snap and was ruled down at their own 41-yard line. The Bulldogs marched to paydirt with Moore hitting Caleb McCormick with a 15-yard touchdown pass with 6:47 left in the first half for a 7-0 lead as Jordan Varner added the extra point.
The Bulldogs had another scoring opportunity right before halftime as they drove to the Walton 3-yard line but were dropped for a loss back to the 9-yard line as the clock continued to run. Without a timeout remaining, Freeport rushed the kicking team onto the field as Varner tried to hit a 26-yard field goal that came up short as time expired.
Walton recovered a fumble at the Freeport 49-yard line on the Bulldogs first possession of the second half but the Braves were unable to put any points on the board as Dalvon Stuckey was stopped short of the first down maker after catching a short pass from Kelly.
The Bulldogs used nearly six minutes of the third quarter to march 72 yards for another touchdown as Gabe Moore dove in from four yards out to push the lead to 14-3 with 2:04 left.
Walton had the ball twice more in the game but could not get back into Freeport territory.
The Bulldogs drove from their own 49-yard line deep into Walton territory on their final possession of the game but could not put any more points on the scoreboard as time expired.
“Our kids worked hard for this one,” coach Jim Anderson said after the game. “This group knows what it takes to prepare for the season. Gabe Moore did a great job in managing the game and made some gutsy plays. We still have a lot of work to do for the opener at Fort Walton but we made good progress tonight.”
The Bulldogs ran for 139 yards and threw for 105 for 244 total yards on the night with one turnover. Caleb McCormick caught five passes for 72 yards with one touchdown.
Walton ran for 126 yards and threw for 51 for 177 total yards with no turnovers, though the Braves fumbled four times, recovering the pigskin each time.
Kelly was 7-10 for 51 yards while rushing for 103 yards in the contest.