(Photo by Curtis Walsh)
Story by Frank Sparks, Beaver County Radio
(North Sewickley Twp., Beaver County) on a beautiful first Friday night of Fall the Freedom Bulldogs traveled to North Sewickley Township to take on the Riverside Panthers in key matchup in the MAC.
Beaver County Radio’s Bob Barrickman and Eddy Crow had the call on Beaver County Radio’s 1230 WBVP, 99.3 FM and beavercountyradio.com . The game was also video streamed live on the Beaver County Radio Facebook Page and YouTube Page.
The Panthers won the opening coin toss and deferred to the second half. The Bulldogs received the opening kick-off and started at the their own 35 yard line. The Bulldogs converted a 4th down deep in their own territory to jump start a drive that saw them convert two first downs before facing another fourth down with three to go just inside the Panthers twenty yard line. The Panthers Defense held and the Bulldogs turned the ball over at the Panthers 17. The Panthers took over and Noah George made a key reception to convert the Panthers first first down of the game. Riverside Quarterback Sam Hughes overthrew his receiver that was wide open down the field creating a fourth down and the Panthers were forced to punt .
The Bulldogs took over and Cody Patterson caught a 52 yard catch and run and got the ball down to the Panthers 12 yard line. Damian Grunnagle scored from one yard out and the bulldogs converted the extra point and took a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter.
The Panthers took over and faced another fourth down and Noah George caught a long pass from Sam Hughes to convert for the first down as the second quarter started. Robert Janis then carried the ball inside the bulldogs ten. Riverside went into the endzone two plays later and the extra point was good and the game was tied at 7 two minutes in the second quarter.
The Bulldogs then went on a long drive that was stalled by a holding penalty deep in Panthers territory. The Bulldogs then attempted a fake punt from the Panthers 36 and the pass was intercepted by Sam Hughes for the Panthers.
The Panthers took over and on the very first play Janis broke loose for a long gain and the Panthers started driving. Riverside Quarterback Sam Hughes then coughed up the ball at the 36 and the Bulldogs recovered. On the first play the Bulldogs did a flea flicker and the pass was completed inside the Panthers 10. Riverside’s defense them stiffened and held the Bulldogs to a fourth down decision inside the five that they had to think about with two minutes left in the half. After the time out the Bulldogs went for it on fourth down and Damian Grunagle scored from the two. The extra point was good from 35 yards out after a Freedom crack back block penalty and the Bulldogs led 14-7 with a minute left in the first half.
Riverside completed a long pass deep in Bulldogs territory with 19 seconds left in the half. Janis carried the ball and a pile of Bulldog defenders into the end zone for the touchdown. The two point conversion was no good and the Bulldogs took a 14-13 lead into the locker room at the half.
The Panthers received the second half kick-off and and Brady Newman returns the ball to the Bulldogs 48 which where the Panthers started out. The Panthers then faced a fourth down and Janis was on the loose again taking the ball inside the Bulldogs ten. On second down Ayden Garcia caught a pass for the touchdown. The Panthers went for two and Hughes went in untouched for the two point conversion and Riverside led for the first time 21-14 early in the third quarter.
The Bulldogs then went three and out and were forced to punt with 7:08 left in the third quarter. The Panthers took over and so did Janis with another huge run down to the Bulldog 33. After an error that went for a ten yard loss the drive stalled and the Panthers had to punt. The Bulldogs started out from their own 11 yard line and the Bulldogs coughed up the football and the Panthers recovered it at the Bulldogs five. On the first play Janis gained a yard. Second down Sam Hughes ran an option and kept the ball scampering into the end zone for the score and the extra point was good and with 1:28 left in the third quarter the Panthers led 28-14.
The Bulldogs started out their drive from the 35 and a pass was intercepted by Noah George and he scampered down the sideline inside the ten but their was a block above the waste from the back penalty that negated the run and the penalty moved the ball all the way back to the Panthers own 15 as the third quarter came to a close with the Panthers up 28-14.
Freedom then drove deep into Panthers territory with 9:00 minutes left in the game. The long drive saw the Bulldogs catch a pass on third and 27 that netted 26 yards and that brought up a fourth down for Freedom. They barely converted after a measurement and it was first and goal for the Bulldogs. Two plays later Grunagle scampered into the endzone and the extra point was good as the Bulldogs pulled to with 7 with a little over 5 minutes left in the game.
Riverside then took over with the game in the balance and Hughes converted on third down with 3 minutes left. The Bulldogs then brought Janis down for a loss and took their first time out of the second half to stop the clock. The Panthers completed a long pass down the field for the first down. the Panthers were then able to force the Bulldogs to use their timeouts and the Panthers drive stalled and the they had to punt with under 40 seconds left. The Bulldogs took over and just didn’t have enough time to score as the Panthers came away with a 28-21 victory.