Football team eliminated from playoffs, defeated in quarterfinals

+Seniors+Kevin+Lawrence+and+Dylan+Goodrich+hug+after+playing+their+last+football+game+of+their+high+school+career%2C+following+their+loss+to+Washington+in+the+second+round+of+playoffs.+%0A
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Football team eliminated from playoffs, defeated in quarterfinals

 Seniors Kevin Lawrence and Dylan Goodrich hug after playing their last football game of their high school career, following their loss to Washington in the second round of playoffs.

Seniors Kevin Lawrence and Dylan Goodrich hug after playing their last football game of their high school career, following their loss to Washington in the second round of playoffs.

Matthew Levenson

Seniors Kevin Lawrence and Dylan Goodrich hug after playing their last football game of their high school career, following their loss to Washington in the second round of playoffs.

Matthew Levenson

Matthew Levenson

Seniors Kevin Lawrence and Dylan Goodrich hug after playing their last football game of their high school career, following their loss to Washington in the second round of playoffs.

Matthew Levenson, Staff Writer

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Upon finishing the regular season with a 7-3 overall record and 5-2 in the section, the Bulldogs found themselves sitting in second place in a close competition for the section championship. Entering playoffs as the eighth seed, the Bulldogs played their first game at home against the Charleroi Cougars on Nov. 1. 

After failing to develop any offense on their opening possession, Freedom punted the ball to Charleroi. A few plays later, the Bulldogs’ defense had Charleroi backed-up in a third-and- 26 situation, but allowed the Cougars to complete a pass and break for a 71-yard touchdown to take an early 7-0 lead. The Bulldogs responded minutes later when quarterback Cole Beck completed a pass to wide receiver Reiker Welling, who took it 58-yards to tie the game. 

16 seconds into the start of the second quarter, the Bulldogs scored again, capping off a drive with a 20-yard touchdown pass to tight end Noah Valles. The Bulldog’s lead was short-lived as the Cougars returned the kickoff, following Valles’ touchdown, 82 yards to tie the game once again. 

After halftime, the Bulldog’s defense held Charleroi’s offense to almost nothing, pressuring the Cougar’s quarterback on every play. The Bulldogs’ offense managed to put together another drive near the end of the third quarter. Valles scored his second touchdown of the night with 2:01 remaining in the third quarter, which would lead the Bulldogs to a 21-14 win over the Cougars. 

“It just felt great to be able to help my teammates punch our ticket to the next round. Being able to just go out and make those plays just felt great knowing that the team and I are taking on a new challenge and another week,” Valles said. 

Round two of the playoffs took place at Canon-Mcmillan on Nov. 8. The Bulldogs took on the first seed Washington Prexies. Overall, the Bulldog’s defense played very well. They made numerous fourth-down stops in key situations and held the Prexies offense scoreless for as long as they could. 

The Bulldog’s offense, however, was another story. They were unable to get anything going against Washington’s defense. They accumulated a mere 35 rushing yards and 32 passing yards for the entire game and were only able to pick up four first downs. The Bulldogs ultimately fell to the Prexies 28-0 and were eliminated from the playoffs. 

“Defensively we played really well, for as long as we could. Obviously they’re athletic, they’re big, we just couldn’t put anything together on offense really. When you don’t score you can’t win, so that’s on me,” head coach Greg Toney said. 

Overall, the Bulldogs had a successful season. While they were not section champions, they made the playoffs and reached the second round. They won a lot of close, competitive games that brought out the most of everyone on the team. 

The Bulldogs outscored their opponents 253-208 this season. Beck completed 71-146 passes and finished with 15 touchdowns. Brett Boyd led all running backs in rushes, yards and touchdowns finishing with 140 rushes for 659 yards and seven touchdowns. Welling led the offense on the receiving end, finishing the season with 27 receptions for 563 yards and seven touchdowns. 

On defense, Valles led the team in tackles with 63. Kevin Lawrence had a team high 13 tackles for a loss, 10 sacks and two fumble recoveries. Beck led the Bulldogs with four interceptions.

The Bulldogs are losing six seniors this season, but they should be well equipped to make another playoff run next year as much of the offense will remain the same and a lot of younger players will be ready to step up and fill their roles.