Freeport picks apart East Allegheny, earns conference victory

Friday, October 8, 2021 | 10:37 PM

At halftime, the Freeport band played the Dolly Parton classic “Jolene” in their set.

The lyrics to that song were appropriate for the night, as all East Allegheny could do was beg the Yellowjackets not to take away their ball.

Freeport forced five turnovers, including a 26-yard interception return by Cole Charlton for a score, and the Yellowjackets scored a 17-7 win at home Friday night in Allegheny Seven Conference play.

Andrew Sullivan had an interception and a game-clinching fumble recovery for the Yellowjackets (3-3, 2-0), Garrett King also had an interception, and Zack Clark had a fumble recovery as the Freeport defense ruled the day.

“It was a great job by our defense. Those guys kept making plays, and I’m proud of the effort out there,” Freeport coach John Gaillot said. “Our offense had some drives, and we got backed up by penalties, but the defense was there for us all night.”

The Yellowjackets opened the scoring with a 3-yard touchdown run by quarterback Ben Lane to take a 7-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Three plays later, on the second play of the second quarter, Charlton read the play as East Allegheny set up a screen. He jumped the route, made the interception, and put the Yellowjackets ahead 14-0 with two scores 50 seconds apart.

That was all that was needed to overcome an offensive day where Lane threw for just 59 yards on 12-for-22 passing, while leading the team’s leading rushers were Lane with 27 yards on eight carries and Shane Jack with 26 yards on 13 carries.

East Allegheny made a late push when Mike Smith connected with Tre Jeter for a 37-yard touchdown pass to the corner of the end zone with 6:31 left in the game. The Wildcats forced a stop and got the ball back at their own 40, but on their first play, another fumble ended the drive.

Smith ended 14 of 30 for 189 yards, but the Wildcats’ running game was not to be seen with just 10 yards as a team.

“We lost the battle up front, and that was the game. We couldn’t get our offense going,” East Allegheny coach Dom Pecora said.

Torrential rain began to fall in the final minutes of the game, but Vincent Clark was still able to seal the win by kicking a 37-yard field goal with 2:51 remaining. Sullivan recovered a bad snap on the final East Allegheny drive to wrap things up.

The win sets the Yellowjackets up to make a playoff push by staying unbeaten in the conference. Asked if he liked where he team was at with games against co-leaders North Catholic and Deer Lakes waiting at the end of the schedule, Gaillot made a simple reply before retreating from the rain.

“Yes, sir. Our defense is playing well, and hopefully we’ve got some guys coming back (from injury) soon,” Gaillot said.

Matt Grubba is a contributing writer.

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