Undefeated Washington blanks Freedom to reach Class 2A semifinals

Friday, November 8, 2019 | 11:27 PM

Heading into Friday night, Washington was one of only three undefeated teams left in the WPIAL.

No. 1 Washington (12-0) remained undefeated behind a power run game and a tough defense in a 28-0 win over No. 8 Freedom (8-4) in the WPIAL Class 2A quarterfinals at Big Mac Stadium in Canonsburg on Friday night.

The Little Prexies finished with 359 yards of total offense, including 259 yards rushing. Washington’s defense made a crucial third-quarter stop when the game was still in the balance at 14-0.

“I think we played really well defensively. We controlled the ball defensively,” Washington coach Mike Bosnic said. “We didn’t allow them to get started with running the ball. We put them in situations where they had to be predictable with passing.”

Senior quarterback Zack Swartz scored three rushing touchdowns and went 6 of 9 for 100 yards passing. He rushed for 73 yards on 13 attempts.

Washington will move on to face No. 5 Brentwood (10-2) in the WPIAL Class 2A semifinals at 7 p.m. next Friday at a site to be determined. Washington is looking to win its eighth WPIAL championship and first title since two years ago.

Brentwood advanced after defeating Neshannock, 20-0.

“We’ve got to be a lot more focused and have a great week of practice,” Bosnic said. “We have to eliminate some of these errors. From here on out, we have to play our best game.”

The Little Prexies showed their ability to move the ball on their opening drive as they took advantage of a short field. However, Freedom’s defense stood tall as they caused a turnover over on downs when senior Zahmere Robinson was stuffed on a fourth-and-short at the Freedom 17-yard line.

After making Freedom punt on their first drive, the Little Prexies got on the board when Swartz ran it in from a yard out on a quarterback sneak to cap off an eight-play, 40-yard drive. Robinson had back-to-back carries to start the drive, where he ripped off 11- and 14-yard runs to bring Washington down to the Bulldog 15-yard line.

Robinson led the Little Prexies with 85 yards on 11 carries.

On his team’s third drive of the game, Freedom junior quarterback Cole Beck was picked off by junior Shaliek Cox as the Little Prexies took over at the Freedom 45-yard line.

Washington capitalized on the Bulldog turnover as Swartz capped off a five-play drive with another 1-yard quarterback sneak to give the Little Prexies a 14-0 lead with just under 11 minutes remaining in the second quarter.

Even though Freedom had only 7 yards of total offense and turned the ball over three times in the first half, the Bulldogs found themselves only down two scores at halftime.

“We couldn’t put enough together on offense,” Freedom coach Greg Toney said. “I’m proud of our kids. I thought they played well enough on defense to win, but we couldn’t get anything going on offense.”

The Bulldogs tried to generate some momentum to start the second, as they got their first first down of the game on the drive. Freedom went on 11-play drive, but it stalled at the 13-yard line when Beck couldn’t connect with junior Reiker Welling in the end zone on fourth down.

The Little Prexies decided to call for a fake punt deep in their own territory. The trickery didn’t work, and the Bulldogs took over at Washington’s 15-yard line.

The Bulldogs couldn’t overcome a holding penalty on the first play of the drive, however, and they turned the ball over on downs at the 8-yard line.

“They came after us and they are really big up front,” Toney said. “I think we had a hard time handling them up front. If you can’t handle them up front, it’s hard to run and it’s hard to pass.”

Washington responded with a six-play, 92-yard drive that concluded with an 8-yard run by sophomore Tayshawn Levy to extend the lead to 21-0.

“I think that took the life out of them a little bit,” Bosnic said. “That was a big sequence for us.”

Swartz scored on a 32-yard run in the fourth quarter.

Sophomore Caleb Jackson finished with four receptions for 82 yards for the Little Prexies.

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