By REID TUCKER
Freeport scored three touchdowns and a field goal before the end of the first quarter, ending the regular season by defeating Rocky Bayou Christian 37-21.
Freeport (7-3) needed just more than three minutes of the Thursday, Nov. 10, homecoming game to score on two touchdown passes of 24 and 32 yards from quarterback Gabe Moore, who completed eight of 13 passes for a total of 183 yards. Brandon Head (five carries for 38 rushing yards, two receptions for 28 yards) caught the first TD pass with 9:50 to go and Jordan Varner completed the second just less than a minute later. Moore kicked a 25-yard field goal with 5:00 left and then connected with another touchdown pass, this time 43-yard strike to Caleb McCormick (four receptions for 75 yards) with 1:12 remaining in the quarter, to give Freeport a 24-0 lead going into the second quarter.
Rocky Bayou (1-9) got on the board early in the second period with a 58-yard breakaway run from Caleb McCullough, who proved to be the Knights’ go-to man on offense, accumulating 161 yards on 23 carries and another touch on the night.
Freeport, with some JV players on the field, elected to punt on the next possession after being held to the 38-yard line by Rocky’s re-energized defense, but the Knights were also forced to punt after being sacked, penalized and stalled all the way back to their own 19-yard line. Freeport and Rocky Bayou each got the ball once more before the end of the half but neither squad could put together much of a drive before the buzzer sounded.
The Bulldogs quickly took the initiative at the start of the third quarter, using three plays to march 43 yards downfield to set up James Leogrande (10 carries for 79 rushing yards) for a 20-yard touchdown sprint up the middle past and through Rocky’s d-linemen. Moore’s kick for the point after failed but Freeport still held a commanding 30-6 lead with 10:46 remaining in the period. However, Rocky Bayou struck again on its next possession, stringing together an 11-play drive from its 23-yard line with quarterback Tyler Paskel (7-14-2 for 80 yards) finding Adam Downing in the end zone on a 15-yard pass.
McCullough made a quick sneak around the outside to catch a short pass from Paskell to give Rocky Bayou the two-point conversion, making the score 30-14 with 3:42 left in the quarter. Freeport used the rest of the period and the first seconds of the fourth on what became a fruitless drive to the 38-yard line, as Moore missed the field goal from the 40.
After stalling the Knights on the 15-yard line and forcing a punt, the Dogs took the ball to the 46 with 10:46 showing on the clock. By 9:09 they were back on the scoreboard as Jordan Varner made a 21-yard for another touchdown, good for a 37-14 Freeport lead after Moore made good on the extra point kick.
Freeport intercepted the ball twice before Rocky Bayou scored again and for the last time, gaining its final touchdown with less than 19 seconds left in the game. It was McCullough who once again came through for the Knights on a fourth-and-goal 1-yard sneak play from scrimmage after Freeport stopped them on the goal line. Andrew Smith put a kick between the goal posts for the extra point.
After receiving the kickoff, Moore made one last run for another touchdown before the buzzer but he was brought down well short of the end zone. Nevertheless, the final score showed 37-21 for a Freeport win. The score was almost identical to that of last year’s matchup, with the Bulldogs wrapping the 2010 regular season with a 34-20 victory.
With the defeat of Rocky Bayou, the Bulldogs concluded another winning season and move on to the 1A regional quarterfinal on the road at Vernon. This will be the third straight year the Bulldogs have advanced to regional play, setting a school record in the process. Freeport beat Vernon 25-14 last October but the two teams did not meet this season.