Another big victory for Freedom
The Freedom football team needed a clock-eating drive late in the game to potentially stave off a late-charging Parkland team that was beginning to get its legs.
A powerful offensive line and skillful backfield took the stage and came through when they needed to most and killed off the final 6:38 off the clock to hang on for a 21-18 win last Friday night at Parkland School District Stadium in Eastern Pennsylvania Conference action.
The Patriots (3-0 overall, 2-0 EPC South) remained undefeated and gave the Trojans (2-1, 1-1) their first loss in a showdown of unbeatens and of the two teams that have combined to win the last seven District 11 championships.
“I thought overall that it was a great game between two really good teams,” said head coach Jason Roeder. “It came down to the end, which we thought it would, and it was a matter of us picking up a yard and then keeping the ball.”
After a Parkland touchdown and two-point conversion midway through the final quarter brought its deficit to 21-18, the Trojans and their home fans began to get louder, knowing what their team is capable of on their home turf.
Freedom had the ball at its 43-yard line on the ensuing kickoff with a fourth-and-one staring them in the face. Workhorse Jalen Stewart plowed ahead for two yards in what proved to be a game-saving play to keep the ball with the Patriots and allowed them to run out the clock five plays later.
“We always take the mentality that if we can’t get a yard, maybe we don’t deserve to win,” Roeder said.
Stewart, along with senior quarterback Jared Jenkins and fellow tailback Matt Russin, provided Freedom with the majority of its offense on the ground. That trio combined on the final fourth quarter possession that sealed the victory.
“With Jalen Stewart in the backfield and my guys up front, I had no doubt we were going to get that,” Jenkins said. “We need one yard and we have a 220-pound Division I back in our backfield, he’s going to get that one yard anytime we need him to.”
Jenkins ran for 75 yards on 14 carries and also had 178 passing yards and two touchdowns, completing 17-of-22 passes. His two touchdown passes went to Owen Johnson-McCormick (29 yards) and Vince Reph (23 yards).
Stewart had a nine-yard score in the second quarter to tie the game at 7-7 after Parkland went ahead to open the game on a Nick Johnston 67-yard punt return for a touchdown early in the that frame. But Stewart’s touchdown started a run of 21-straight points for the Patriots. Parkland had a field goal late in the third quarter and then a Johnston touchdown reception, followed by a converted two-point attempt before Freedom was able to move the chains and the clock.
Freedom will once again face an EPC undefeated team when it hosts Nazareth on Friday night at Bethlehem Area School District Stadium.