Elizabeth Forward tops Freeport for long-awaited WPIAL playoff victory

Friday, October 30, 2020 | 10:28 PM

For the first time in two decades, the Elizabeth Forward football program has a playoff victory under its belt.

The third-seeded Warriors rushed for more than 300 yards and held off a second-half rally from No. 6 Freeport to capture its first playoff triumph since 2000 with a 34-20 victory in a WPIAL Class 3A quarterfinal Friday at Warrior Stadium.

“From where we’ve come to where we are now, the program is getting better and better,” Elizabeth Forward coach Mike Collodi said. “There has been a change in the community, the culture and the kids. They bought into me and they’re the ones that do it. I’m so happy for these guys; they deserve it.”

The Warriors (7-0), who also picked up their first home playoff win in program history, featured three rushers with 50-plus yards on the ground.

Kyle Flournoy led the attack with 30 carries for 161 yards and two touchdowns, while DaVontay Brownfield had nine carries for 79 yards and a score. Nico Mrvos carried the ball 10 times for 67 yards and found the end zone twice for the victors.

“We wanted to use a bunch of our athletes at running back and wear them down,” Collodi said. “We knew we were a little bit bigger than them, and we just wanted to keep pounding and pounding. The line did an awesome job and the backs did a great job, so I credit them tonight.”

Freeport (3-3) went into halftime trailing 27-0 before making things interesting in the final 24 minutes of play.

The Yellowjackets took advantage of an EF fumble on the first drive of the second half and turned it into six points on a 31-yard touchdown pass from Ben Lane to Brady Stivenson.

After the remainder of the third quarter went scoreless, EF extended its lead to 34-6 early in the fourth on a 13-yard touchdown run from Flournoy, who added an 8-yard scamper in the second.

Freeport scored on its next two possessions as Lane connected with Mario DeVivo for a 19-yard score to make it 34-12 after a failed two-point conversion.

A fumble on the ensuing kickoff was recovered by the Yellowjackets, who scored less than two minutes later on a 29-yard pass from Lane to Colton Otterman.

Freeport converted a two-point conversion to make it a two-score game, but EF ran out the remaining seven and a half minutes to seal the win.

“Early on, it was just about nerves with us being so young,” Freeport coach John Gaillot said. “We have a resilient group of kids.”

While Freeport was limited to just 11 rushing yards, Lane took care of business in the passing game, completing 12 of 19 passes for 160 yards and three touchdowns. He also threw an interception.

“Kids changed positions and never batted an eye; they just wanted to win,” Gaillot said. “They’re gutsy, hard-nosed kids.”

Elizabeth Forward dominated in what Collodi called his team’s best first-half effort of the season.

The Warriors scored on both of their first quarter possessions as a 45-yard touchdown run by Brownfield and a 1-yard score by Mrvos put them ahead 14-0.

Flournoy added his first touchdown of the game before Mrvos scored from 2 yards out to give EF a significant advantage heading into halftime.

Zion White only had to throw five passes in the win, completing four for 68 yards. As a team, the Warriors rushed for 323 yards and finished with 391 yards of total offense.

“We put it together,” Collodi said. “We came out to play and the team was ready to roll tonight.”

With its first playoff win in 20 years now in its rear view mirror, Elizabeth Forward turns its attention to a Class 3A semifinal matchup with No. 2 North Catholic.

The Warriors were previously in the same conference as the Trojans and will look to avenge a 12-7 loss from a year ago.

“We shouldn’t have lost, we just had stupid mistakes,” senior lineman Chase Whatton said. “We can’t let those things happen cause they’re a great team.”

“It’s redemption time,” said junior lineman Nicholas Murphy.

The Warriors and the Trojans will face off 7 p.m. next week at Mars.

Listen to an archived broadcast of this game on Trib HSSN.

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