Second half does in Freeport
MOUNT PLEASANT TWP, Westmoreland County —David Ross’ magic act occurred many times Friday night at Vikings Stadium.
The Freeport quarterback would briefly disappear from view behind a wave of blue-clad, Mount Pleasant pass rushers. When Ross emerged from the chaos, he made plays that kept the Yellowjackets in a 45-23 non-conference loss to Mount Pleasant.
Counting on improvisation didn’t end up being sustainable. Freeport’s offense struggled to recapture the fire in the second half. The Yellowjackets were forced to punt on three of their second-half drives, while the three others ended with an interception, turnover on downs and the end of the game.
Meanwhile, the Vikings’ running attack exploded. Mount Pleasant (4-1) scored five rushing touchdowns in the second half and finished with 341 yards rushing yards for the game.
“I dropped the ball,” ’Jackets coach John Gaillot said. “I didn’t prepare them well enough. They are big, and they wore us down. We are a comparable team to them.”
Ross didn’t always get away. The Vikings recorded four sacks. But when Ross found space, Freeport’s offense found a way forward. The ’Jackets offense awoke from their slumber early in the second quarter.
On first-and-10 from midfield, Ross was forced to scramble in the pocket and split three Mount Pleasant defenders before finding Cyprian Selinger on a 16-yard pass. Freeport would take a 7-3 lead five plays later on a 5-yard touchdown run by Colton Otterman.
“He’s doing an outstanding job this year as a sophomore,” Gaillot said. “It’s his first year playing and he gets better every game. I’m proud of how hard he’s worked and where he is now.”
The Vikings quickly grabbed the lead back on the next possession when quarterback Cole Chatfield threw a 36-yard touchdown to Luke Nicotera.
Freeport closed the half strong. The ’Jackets drive after Nicotera’s touchdown ended with a 30-yard field goal by Judah Thompson to tie the game.
Freeport then forced a Chatfield fumble which was recovered by ‘Jackets Dawson Gaillot at the Viking 33. Gaillot thought the defense played well early. Freeport recovered two fumbles in the first half.
“I really liked it,” John Gaillot said. “I thought everything was jelling. We faced adversity and I didn’t prepare the kids well enough to overcome that adversity.”
On the drive after Dawson Gaillot’s fumble recovery. Ross, who finished with 129 passing yards, then avoided pressure again and scrambled for a 29-yard gain. Ross scored on a 2-yard run two plays later to give Freeport a 17-10 halftime lead.
Vikings coach Jason Fazekas said he knew Mount Pleasant was in a tough battle.
“It was hard going,” Fazekas said. “They coach well, and their kids play hard. We started talking and getting back into what we do and we found a couple things in there. I have to give our kids credit. They started blocking it and running it like crazy.”
Freeport (2-2) extended its lead to 23-10 on a 5-yard touchdown pass from Ross to Brady Sullivan. Sullivan led Freeport with 75 yards receiving on seven catches.
The ‘Jackets defense never figured out how to stop the Vikings’ rushing attack again.
Mount Pleasant scored on five straight drives to end the game. The Vikings went ahead, 24-23, on a 45-yard touchdown run by Brody Hutter. Jackson Hutter, who scored twice, led Mount Pleasant with 102 yards rushing before exiting the game with an injury following a 45-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
Mount Pleasant showed it had a diverse amount of options in the backfield. The Vikings had seven guys carry the ball and four finished with 50 or more yards.
“It’s important for us when it’s hard-going,” Fazekas said. “It’s not uncommon for us to have four, five or six guys carry the ball in one night. That helped us find our grove in the second half.”
Freeport 0 17 6 0-23
Mount Pleasant 3 7 14 21-45
M —Jarett Garn 33 field goal, 1:44
F — Colton Otterman 5 run (Judah Thompson kick), 9:50
M— Luke Nicotera 36 pass from Cole Chatfield (Garn kick), 8:03
F — Judah Thompson 30 field goal, 3:43
F — Drew Ross 2 run (Thompson kick), 1:21
F — Brady Sullivan 5 pass from Ross (kick blocked), 4:33
M — Jackson Hutter 22 run (Garn kick), 3:35
M — Brody Hutter 45 run (Garn kick), :40
M — Jackson Hutter 45 run (Garn kick), 7:43
M — Brody Hutter 22 run (Garn kick), 3:19
M — Brady Poole 32 run (Garn kick), 1:52
Rushing: Freeport, Colton Otterman 15-75, Cyprian Selinger 1-22, David Ross 7-20, Justin Jack 5-11. Mount Pleasant, Jackson Hutter 7-102, Brody Hutter 5-66, Dante Giollonardo 2-58, Garrett Eicher 8-50, Brody Poole 2-35, Cole Chatfield 10-31, Richard Shawkey 1-(-1).
Passing: Freeport, Ross 16-30-129-1. Mount Pleasant, Cole Chatfield 4-9-103-0.
Receiving: Freeport, Brady Sullivan 7-75, Colton Otterman 2-26, Cyprian Selinger 3-23, Madden Wisniewski 3-19, Taylor King 1-16. Mount Pleasant, Jackson Hutter 2-45, Luke Nicotera 1-36, Dante Giallonardo 2-26.