Freeport surprises Jeannette
Freeport's Curtis Hughes ran as hard as he could down the sideline, hoping no one on Jeannette's team was fast enough to catch him.
As he neared the end zone, a defender dived to take him down but couldn't.
His 70-yard fumble recovery in the first quarter helped the 11th-seeded Yellowjackets to a 30-22 upset of No. 6 Jeannette in a WPIAL Class AA first-round playoff game Friday night at Jeannette's McKee Stadium.
It was the team's first postseason win under third-year coach John Gaillot -- and first since 2002. Freeport (7-3) advanced to play No. 3 South Fayette (10-0) next week. Jeannette ended its season at 7-2.
The Yellowjackets' opportunistic defense forced three Jeannette turnovers and turned them into 14 first-quarter points. Gaillot said he wasn't sure whether Hughes was going to score the touchdown that put his team ahead by two scores.
"Honestly, I didn't know Curtis could run that fast," Gaillot said. "That play was huge."
Jeannette coach Roy Hall said his team made some unforced errors.
"Turnovers were a big factor; execution was a big factor," Hall said. "Not tackling was a factor, and stupid penalties were a factor. To be honest, it looked like Freeport wanted it more than we did."
Quarterback Demetrius Cox fumbled twice in the first quarter, and both turned into Freeport touchdowns. Sophomore quarterback Brendan Lynch found Derek Durand for a 23-yard touchdown, and Hughes returned the fumble for the second.
The Jayhawks cut the deficit to 17-14 before halftime when Cox recovered a Jake Campbell fumble and returned it 22 yards for a touchdown.
Campbell, who led all rushers with 86 yards on 23 carries, redeemed himself in the second half. He scored touchdowns on runs of 1 and 21 yards to extend the Yellowjackets' lead to 30-14.
"We just told Jake he needed to run harder," Gaillot said. "And he went out and did that. Everyone did great, from the line on down."
The Jayhawks rallied in the fourth quarter. Cox, who finished with 206 passing yards, led Jeannette down the field and scored on a 5-yard run with 2:04 left to cut the margin to 30-22.
The Jayhawks stopped the Yellowjackets and got the ball back, but Lynch intercepted Cox with 40 seconds left to end it.
"We didn't do anything differently in the second half than we did in the first," Hall said. "The only difference was execution. We just ran out of time."