By REID TUCKER
Freeport’s 27-20 comeback win against Graceville in its spring football game proves that a lot can happen in 90 seconds, as the Tigers found out the hard way.
In the minute-and-a-half remaining in the game, Freeport’s not-quite-yet-a-junior quarterback, Gabe Moore, nailed two touchdown passes to turn a 20-14 Graceville lead first into a tie game then into absolute victory for the visiting Bulldogs.
However, Moore wasn’t done yet. He put a kick between the posts for the point after, giving Graceville possession with just 8.5 seconds left on the clock. After a 7-yard scamper to the Tigers’ own 37 yard-line from their leading rusher Rasheed Campell (78 yards, 17 carries, two TDs), Moore, Class 1A’s runner up in the high jump at this year’s state track championship, snatched down an interception on the 45 with one second left.
Moore led Freeport’s effort on offense on Friday, May 18, going 14-for-27 for 174 passing yards and rushing for 72 more. Aside from those final two touchdown throws, he also ran twice across the goal line to be the Bulldogs’ leading scorer on the night. Freeport’s other main weapons in the game were junior running back Owen Cole, who rushed for 70 yards on seven carries and 32 yards from receptions, and sophomore Morgan Hardee, who accumulated 71 yards on five receptions plus a TD.
Despite brilliant play in the game’s final moments, Freeport actually spun its wheels a fair bit in the first half, as Graceville posted a 12-7 lead after the two introductory quarters. In fact, the Tigers struck twice in the first quarter alone thanks to the fast feet of Campbell, while team mate CJ Miller (73 yards on 17 carries) used his size to move the ball virtually at will. Graceville looked equally sharp on defense as well, as the blitz in particular proved difficult for the Freeport offensive line to spot and harder, at times, to stop.
Nevertheless, Freeport coach Jim Anderson said the entire second half and especially the final minutes demonstrates two virtues of which the Bulldogs have no short supply. “We had a good second half because the boys listened at half time,” Anderson said. “We were a little slow starting tonight, but I was really proud of our guys and the way we hung in there. Obviously we didn’t quit. Our guys always have a lot of heart.”
Graceville forced a turnover on downs in Freeport’s first possession, taking over the ball on the 39-yard line around the eight-minute mark. Campbell and Miller worked together to move the ball downfield, and seven plays later Campbell blasted four yards across the goal line to make it a 6-0 ballgame. The two-point conversion attempt failed though, as Campbell bobbled the ball in the backfield.
Freeport failed to convert after three downs and punted the ball just across midfield to the Tigers’ 48. From there, the home team needed just three plays to score once again, this time on a 48-yard pass/run combination down the sideline from Padgett to Campbell to make the score 12-zip with 2:24 left in the quarter.
The Bulldogs’ subsequent possession carried over into the second quarter and saw the visiting squad grind out passage to the 29-yard line, but a succession of carries from Moore and Cole still left Freeport fourth-and-long after a fumble, even one Moore recovered, cost the team some valuable yardage. The Dogs turned the ball over on downs for the second time of the night with 8:08 to go in the half, but eight plays later they foisted a turnover on Graceville, having stopped the Tigers on the 38. Moore finally put the ball in the end zone with a 48-yard sprint, and Freeport trailed 12-7 at the half after more made good on the extra point kick….
Read the full story in the 5/24/12 edition of the Herald Breeze.