Highlands rolls in delayed game against Blackhawk

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Sunday, October 15, 2017 | 12:00 AM


Blackhawk is likely happy its new stadium didn't open as planned Saturday night.

Needing to play its home games at Geneva College's Reeves Stadium because its on-campus facility isn't finished yet, the Cougars were drubbed by Highlands, 56-12.

Senior wide receiver Romello Freeman caught four passes for 266 yards — all for touchdowns and all in the first half — and junior quarterback Seth Cohen completed six passes for 303 yards and five scores.

The Golden Rams (4-3, 3-3) remained mathematically alive in the WPIAL playoff race with the big victory. Highlands must defeat No. 2-rated South Fayette on the road Friday and Indiana on Oct. 27, then hope Mars (4-2) loses road games to Indiana and Knoch over the final two weeks.

Blackhawk (2-5, 2-4) had hoped to open its new stadium in Chippewa for homecoming this weekend, but the steel for the bleachers coming from Florida was delayed because of Hurricane Irma.

Since Beaver Falls also uses Reeves and the Tigers had a home game Friday, the Highlands-Blackhawk game was pushed to Saturday.

The Golden Rams began their scoring barrage on the third play of the game when Cohen found Freeman on the right side for 79 yards. Two possessions later after a fumble recovery by Ethan Jones, Cohen and Freeman hooked up on a 62-yard play. Freeman outmaneuvered cornerback Kenny Gawley each time.

“I told them we had to go out tonight and play Highlands football,” Golden Rams coach Dom Girardi said. “It doesn't matter who the opponent is, where it is, when we play, go out and play Highlands football. And that's what we did.”

Right after Blackhawk punted to the Highlands 45, Cohen found Freeman again for a 55-yard scoring play to put the Golden Rams ahead 21-0 with 1:37 left in the first quarter.

“Seth is a great quarterback, and we have a bond,” Freeman said. “It makes it easy when you have a bond. We were open, we figured why not try it?”

Payton Stewart put Blackhawk on the scoreboard with an 8-yard run to make it 21-6, but Cohen found Freeman open for a 70-yarder on the first Highlands play from scrimmage following the Cougars touchdown.

Logan Crise then scored on a 54-yard interception return and Johnny Crise got behind the Blackhawk secondary for a 34-yard scoring pass and the Golden Rams led 42-6 at the half.

“Was the game plan to throw that much, that deep?” Girardi said. “We knew it was a possibility. It wasn't necessarily our game plan, it was just how things unfolded.”

“It all starts with our line,” Cohen said. “I've been sacked only three times the whole year. They may not the biggest players every week, but they play great.”

Gabe Booker scored on a 4-yard run and Freeman put the icing on the cake with a interception runback.

“I read that play all week in practice,” Freeman said. “I ask the coach if that back goes right back out, I'm going down no matter what.”

Cohen has 1,559 passing yards on the season.

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