Burrell football team defeats Freeport in overtime thriller

Friday, October 11, 2019 | 11:19 PM

Burrell coach Shawn Liotta has coached a lot of games in his career, but he said he has never coached one like Friday’s 36-35 overtime victory over Freeport.

There was history — the Bucs were 1-11 against the Yellowjackets in the past 12 years and had been outscored 361-141.

There also were playoff implications on the line as the loser would be knocked out of contention. It was win or go home, and the Bucs were looking for a game that would signify things have changed.

So when the Yellowjackets struck first in overtime to make it 35-28, Burrell had no choice but to answer. Junior quarterback Alex Arledge did just that when he found Seth Fischbach on a 13-yard double-move route to the back pylon for a score.

“I knew that it was a touchdown before the play was even called,” Arledge said. “As soon as I saw one-on-one coverage out there, I knew it was a touchdown. He had his man beat, and we’ve been practicing that since the summer.”

Liotta had a choice to make: go for the tie with a field goal or go for the win and secure a spot in the playoffs. For the second-year Burrell coach, it was no contest.

“I tell the kids, ‘Scared money don’t make no money,’ ” Liotta said. “We are not afraid. We had 100% belief in that play. There was never a doubt in my mind. I believe in our guys.”

With the game on the line, senior Zach Miller ran a whip route across the goal line, and Arledge hit him right on the numbers for the winning points in front of a packed house.

“This feels great,” Fischbach said. “Not making the playoffs since 2012, this is just an amazing feeling. So, playoffs, here we come.”

The end of the game was a perfect conclusion to the battle that had taken place over the course of four quarters at Buccaneer Stadium.

Freeport’s Garret Schaffhauser got the scoring started with a 1-yard run late in the second quarter.

Five minutes later, the Bucs (5-3,4-3) capitalized on great field position, and Arledge found Miller for a 19-yard strike.

But a blocked point-after attempt left them with a deficit heading into the locker room.

“We know we made some mental mistakes, some penalties, in the first half,” Arledge said. “So we knew when we came out for the second half, we just had to clean it up and play our game.”

Just under two minutes into the second half, Mikey Scherer, who had 181 yards on 31 carries, punched in his only touchdown of the game from 2 yards.

Then, Freeport’s Ricky Hunter capped a 98-yard drive with a 22-yard scamper to put the Yellowjackets back out in front.

Arledge hit Logan Phillips with a 60-yard pass down the left sideline two minutes later, but Hunter quickly answered with touchdowns of 29 and 3 yards to put the Yellowjackets ahead 28-20.

Although they were down, the Bucs never had a doubt. They marched down the field with six minutes left on the clock, and an 18-yard run by Scherer put them on the 2-yard line. Caden DiCaprio finished it with a 2-yard plunge, and Arledge converted a quarterback sneak to force overtime.

“This is on me,” Freeport coach John Gaillot said. “I didn’t prepare them well enough. We lost that game, we’re out of the playoffs and that’s on me.”

Burrell will have a nonconference matchup against Waynesburg Central next week, and Freeport will be on the road at Mt. Pleasant.

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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