Freedom knocks off Emmaus, Parkland up next
It wasn’t a historic passing night for Freedom and it wasn’t a mercy rule victory, but it was enough to push the Patriots into the District 11 6A semifinals following last week’s 42-21 win over Emmaus.
Instead of passing at will on the Hornets like Freedom did during their regular season encounter, the Pates (10-1) churned out 243 yards on the ground and five rushing touchdowns to eventually pull away from a feisty Emmaus (5-6) squad.
While the running game was working for Freedom last week, they needed a timely defensive play to open the game up and provide a cushion from a mostly back and forth affair, when Jalen Stewart punched the game’s final score with a 60-yard interception return for a touchdown with 7:42 left in the third quarter to build the Pates three-score advantage.
“I think the pick-six gave us a three-score lead in the second half, that certainly helps,” said Freedom head coach Jason Roeder. “Jalen made plays on offense for us all night and then made a big defensive play. He’s been great for us all year.”
Stewart shined on the ground throughout the night, compiling 189 yards and two first half scores (one-yard and 57-yard TD runs), while his running mate, Matt Russin, added 50 yards and two rushing scores as well. Emmaus actually grabbed the lead in the first quarter following a three-yard TD run by Brandon Camire (86-yards). The Patriots would then proceed to run 21-straight points, before Jake Moyer threw a 23-yard TD to Jameel Sanders to make it 21-14.
Freedom marched down field on the ensuing drive and punched it from a yard out with Stewart only to see Camire return the following kickoff 82-yards to make it 28-21 heading into the half.
With Emmaus on Freedom’s heels all night, Russin’s four-yard TD run in the third put them up two scores, before Stewart’s pick-six was the final gut punch.
“Seems like we see them [Emmaus] a lot every year and they always give us battles,” said Roeder. “They make you defend every part of the field and we’re happy to be moving.”
The victory sets up a showdown Friday night for the Patriots at BASD Stadium against a red-hot Parkland (9-2) team that has won seven straight games since an early season two-game skid. Freedom contributed to that losing streak, knocking the Trojans off 21-18 in week three.
Roeder knows that’s an eternity ago in football and that the same mistakes they got away with against Emmaus will spell doom against an opponent like Parkland.
“It’s going to take effort and execution in these type of games,” said Roeder. “We can’t have break downs on special teams, can’t have penalties that give teams life and once again, in order to be successful at this stage of the year, you have to limit mistakes. We can’t give Parkland second chances.”