Freeport trounces West Mifflin in WPIAL quarterfinals
Friday, November 11, 2022 | 10:46 PM
Freeport didn’t let persistent rain showers or West Mifflin slow it down in a WPIAL Class 3A quarterfinal Friday at Freeport Area Athletic Stadium.
The Titans scored first, but the Yellowjackets scored more often and rolled to a 42-6 victory.
“I am so very proud of the boys,” Freeport coach John Gaillot said. “From the beginning of the year to now, the journey has been up and down. But we’re flying high right now. Just give God all the glory.”
Freeport, the No. 4 seed, improved to 10-1 and is in the WPIAL semifinals for the first time since 2014. The Yellowjackets capped the home portion of their season 7-0.
Up next for Freeport is No. 1 Belle Vernon, a 55-7 winner over East Allegheny on Friday.
“We’re going to celebrate this win, and then (Saturday) we’re going to get ready for Belle Vernon,” Gaillot said. “They are an extremely good team. But anything is possible in this game. I know the guys are excited for the challenge.”
Freeport led by a single score at halftime, but it all but put the game away with two third-quarter scores and added two more in the fourth for good measure.
The initial second-half touchdown came 1 minute, 11 seconds into the quarter as senior Zach Clark ran it in from 6 yards. Senior Isaac Wetzel added the point after to make it 21-6.
Senior Ben Lane then scored the third of his four touchdowns as he capped a seven-play, 63-yard drive with a 14-yard run with 2:52 left in the third.
Lane iced it for the Yellowjackets with a 61-yard scamper with 9:49 to play.
He finished the game with 15 carries for 171 yards.
After a fumble recovery from junior lineman Brady Paga, Clark scored his second of the half on a 23-yard run with 9:31 on the clock. The Wetzel PAT made it 42-6 and brought the mercy rule running clock into play.
The Freeport run game collected 283 total yards on 35 carries. Clark added 60 yards on seven attempts.
“We had a couple of mishaps early, but then we settled down,” Gaillot said. “Once we started to get that wing-T and motion going, we were hitting some big plays.”
West Mifflin managed just three first downs over the final three quarters.
“We took this week of practice more serious than any other this season,” senior linebacker Jacksen Reiser said. “We really took it up another notch. We put a few more things in offensively and defensively, and I think we are playing our best football right now. All the old things, we have all that down, and it’s a lot of fun to add things and have them work in games.”
West Mifflin capped its season at 6-6. The Titans came into Friday’s game off a 54-28 victory over Southmoreland in the first round.
“It was an up-and-down year for us, and we faced a lot of adversity with injuries and stuff like that,” Titans coach Rod Steele said. “But these guys fought, and it was nice to see them get that playoff win last week. But at the end of the day, in big games like this, you can’t turn the ball over and be successful. We did that, and it hurt us. Every time we got a sustained drive going, we would do something to shoot ourselves in the foot.
“But you have to take your hat off to Freeport. They are a very good football team. They are a conference champion for a reason. They play tough football.”
The heavy and steady rain toyed with runners from both teams early as the Yellowjackets and Titans combined for three fumbles.
West Mifflin’s DelRon White coughed up the ball on his team’s first play from scrimmage. Senior linebacker Parker Lucas picked up the ball, and Freeport was in business from the Titans 19.
A Zach Clark run to the 2 set the Yellowjackets up with a first and goal. But senior quarterback Gavin Croney fumbled, and West Mifflin recovered.
The Titans were not able to do anything with the ball and had to punt. Freeport took over on the West Mifflin 20. On the first play, Lane fumbled and the Titans had the ball back.
Senior Jake Bollinger snuffed out West Mifflin’s drive with an interception at the line of scrimmage at the Yellowjackets 26, but Freeport was forced to punt.
The Titans took advantage, posting the first points of the game with 2:11 left in the opening frame. White capped a quick 5-play 68-yard drive with a run of 25 yards to the end zone. The point-after kick by Nicholas Kosuda deflected off the right upright, and the score remained 6-0.
White finished with 16 carries for 116 yards.
After that score, Freeport started to move the ball.
Lane scored both second-quarter touchdowns. He ran it in from 9 yards with 9:30 left until halftime when he changed direction and broke a couple of tackles before reaching the end zone.
After a West Mifflin punt to near midfield, junior Colton Otterman ran for 18 yards, and Lane took it the final 32. Wetzel’s second PAT kick put the score at 14-6 with 6:48 on the second-quarter clock.
Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at email@example.com or via Twitter .
Tags: Freeport, West Mifflin
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