Freedom shuts out Mohawk in MAC matchup

Saturday, September 14, 2019 | 11:48 PM

It’s good to be the king.

Senior Max Ujhazy was named Homecoming King moments before kickoff, then helped turn the game around with a big punt return in the third quarter as Freedom defeated Mohawk, 28-0, on Saturday in a Class 2A Midwestern Athletic Conference contest.

“It was very humbling, to be honest at the beginning of the game,” Ujhazy said. “Once everything cleared, I had tunnel vision. Once the whistle blew, I was ready to play some football.”

Whether it was a rare Saturday night game or a great start for the defenses, both Freedom and Mohawk struggled moving the ball in the first half.

The one drive Freedom put together ended on a first and goal from the 3-yard line off a fumble by Ujhazy that was recovered by Mohawk.

The teams were scoreless at the half, but that changed quickly in the third quarter.

After a three-and-out by Mohawk, Brian Cline’s punt was field on the run by Ujhazy, who followed blocks down the right sideline until he was dragged down at the Mohawk 1-yard line after a 63-yard punt return.

“When I saw all my guys lined up along the sideline,” Ujhazy said, “I felt like I was running with an escort.”

One play later, quarterback Cole Beck snuck it in from a yard out to put Freedom up for good.

The Bulldogs then opened up the offense on their next two possessions with Beck first hitting Reiker Welling in stride deep down the middle for a 65-yard scoring pass.

Beck followed that up with a 36-yard scoring pass to Ujhazy to cap off a 21-point third quarter.

After struggling with the run game in the first half, the Bulldogs opened up the offense in the third quarter, leading to several big plays.

“We had a game plan going in, it didn’t work out,” Freedom coach Greg Toney said. “We had to go back to the drawing board at halftime and figure out what we could do.”

Beck completed the scoring in the fourth quarter with a 21-yard touchdown pass to junior Brandon Pratte.

The Bulldogs junior quarterback finished 6 of 9 for 155 yards and three touchdowns.

Freedom’s shutout was a nice bounce back after allowing 30 points in a one-point victory last week against Riverside.

“My defensive coordinator, Dave Commesso, does a really great job,” Toney said. “The game plan was great, the kids played hard and did a really nice job.”

Freedom improved to 3-0 in the MAC and is tied for first place with Neshannock (3-0), a half-game ahead of New Brighton (2-0).

The Bulldogs are off to a 4-0 overall start for the first time since 1991.

Mohawk, which tied Freedom for the conference championship a year ago, remains winless in both the conference (0-3) and overall (0-4).

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