East Allegheny strikes early in win over Freeport
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East Allegheny kept its playoff hopes alive Friday with a convincing, 38-14, Allegheny Conference victory over Freeport (2-5, 2-5) at James E. Swartz Field.
The Wildcats (3-4, 3-4) jumped to an early lead with some quick scoring strikes in the first quarter.
“We came out in the first half and played outstanding football,” East Allegheny coach Dom Pecora said. “We hit some big plays, and we have to do that, and we can do that against almost everyone. We had some trouble running the ball inside because Freeport is a tough team. But we made plays when we had to make them.”
East Allegheny senior quarterback Kyle Whipple completed 12 of 17 passes for 261 yards and one touchdown. Taizjon Brown led the Wildcats with 78 yards rushing and a touchdown. Whipple added three touchdown runs. Rocco Dunn paced the Wildcats with three receptions for 129 yards and a score.
“It's been this way the whole season,” Freeport coach John Gaillot said. “The boys are not at fault, I have to do a better job reaching them. They deserve better because they have worked their tails off this season.”
East Allegheny led, 31-0, at halftime but things were more laborious, rather than crisp football, in the second half. The Wildcats took the opening kickoff of the third quarter and drove to the Freeport 11. On a fourth-and-1, Whipple attempted a pitch just before going to the ground. The pitch was intercepted by Dylan Hochbein and returned 65 yards to the East Allegheny 19. Two plays later Steven Lassinger scored on a 20-yard run.
Freeport added another score, a 2-yard run by Romanchak, for the game's final points. Tigger Troup led Freeport with 81 yards rushing on 12 carries.
East Allegheny's first scoring drive was quick, five plays and 58 yards. The key play was a 49-yard reception by Praise Gainer that put the ball inside the Freeport 10. One play later Whipple scored on a 3-yard run for the game's first score.
East Allegheny added a 25-yard field goal from Vinny Barone on its next possession to build its lead to 10. Another defensive stop by East Allegheny led to a Freeport punt being downed at the East Allegheny 2, a perfect opportunity to exact a momentum-changing defensive stand, but it did not happen.
On first down, Whipple connected with Rocco Dunn for a 98-yard touchdown pitch and catch.
The Wildcats scored twice in the second quarter. The first came on a 10-yard run from Taizjon Brown and then Whipple added an 8-yard run.
Thomas Zuck is a freelance writer.
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