By REID TUCKER
The Freeport Bulldogs, twice the District 1-A champ in as many years, earned the runner-up spot instead, routing Jay 41-14 in their second-to-last football game of the regular season.
Freeport (6-3, 2-1) was part of a district of four competitors in 2011, and the Bulldogs needed to make each game count if they wanted to go three-for-three in post-season appearances. After a 17-14 victory against Baker and a 35-21 loss to archrival Northview, Freeport needed to come out strong against Jay (3-7, 0-3). After scoring twice in the first 10 minutes of play, the Bulldogs had some first-half hiccups to work through, but those foibles disappeared in the latter periods as the Bulldogs scored 20 unanswered points in the second half to take the win.
“We just had to go over the reasons we weren’t playing well,” Anderson said. “It wasn’t because we weren’t capable of it, we weren’t focused enough. So at halftime I just reminded them of the things they needed to do to be successful. They had it in them all the time, sometimes you just have to draw it out of them.”
Owen Cole led the Bulldogs with 92 rushing yards on nine carries, one of which was a 58-yard touchdown sprint, while Brandon Head ran 59 yards and two touchdowns on eight carries. Quarterback Gabe Moore ran for 84 yards on eight carries and completed five of 12 passes for 84 yards through the air. Moore also ran for a touchdown and scored another on a pass play.
Jay’s Allen Perry ran 117 yards on 22 carries and quarterback Tate Upton threw for 88 yards and both of the Royals’ touchdowns, though he also threw two interceptions in the second half.
Freeport came out in force from the onset, with Cole scoring from behind midfield less than two minutes into the game but Jay blocked the point-after kick. James Leogrande scored on a 4-yard run shortly afterward and this time Moore’s kick was good, giving Freeport a 13-0 lead. The Royals took advantage of a letup on Freeport’s end to score on a 10-yard pass to Sammy James with 2:01 to go, though the extra point kick was no-good.
Developments in the second quarter made the Royals look set to stage an upset over the Bulldogs, as Freeport punted after failing to get a first down on its next two possessions, never getting closer than the 40-yard line. A low snap on the second punt attempt forced Moore to kick the ball into the end zone for a safety, putting Jay just a touchdown and extra point away from a tie game. Freeport for the third time failed to convert after three downs and punted, but this time the Royals made a four-play drive for a score, taking the 14-13 lead on a 40-yard pass play from Upton to James.
That touchdown proved to be Jay’s last as Freeport got back in the game, using up six plays and most of the remaining 2:58 to put together a six-play drive to the end zone, with David Barlett coming up with an 11-yard pick play from Moore. The Bulldogs faked the kick to draw off Jay’s d-linemen and Moore dashed over the line for a two-point conversion, giving Freeport the 21-13 lead with just 35 seconds showing on the clock before halftime.
The Bulldogs must have had a serious locker-room talking-to because they emerged on the second half as the more composed team while Jay seemed to deflate. Upton threw back-to-back interceptions on Jay’s first two possessions of the quarter, with Freeport’s Caleb McCormick and Roland Campbell coming up ball in hand….
Read the full story in the Nov. 10, 2011 edition of the Herald Breeze