Freeport breaks Jeannette hex in football
Freeport had many memorable football games against Jeannette in postseasons past, but most of those ended on a sour note for the Yellowjackets.
It looks like competitive balance could be returning to the teams’ playoff “rivalry.” Underdog Freeport stunned the Jayhawks, 30-22, on Friday night in a WPIAL Class AA first-round game at Jeannette’s McKee Stadium.
It was the Yellowjackets’ first victory over Jeannette since 1989. They improved to 5-18 all-time against their playoff nemesis.
Freeport rolled the dice, squib-kicking after every score to prevent long returns. The move showed the Yellowjackets were willing to do whatever it took to knock off the higher-seeded Jayhawks.
It was the trademark victory of Freeport coach John Gaillot’s career.
“This is the third playoff game for this class of seniors,” he said. “We learned from the past and believed we could win. We were one step away from playing an almost perfect football game.”
Freeport (7-3), the No. 11 seed, advanced to play No. 3 South Fayette (10-0), led by former Riverview coach Joe Rossi, in the quarterfinals.
Knoch (Class AAA), Ford City (Class AA) and Springdale (Class A) also won in the opening round. Knoch (9-1) advanced to face Central Valley (7-3); Ford City (10-0) plays Seton-La Salle (9-1), and Springdale (9-1) takes on Monessen (9-1).
Knoch got a boost from senior fullback/linebacker Adam Tuzikow, who returned from an injury. He didn’t play in the first half of a 21-14 win over Greensburg Salem; he has been nursing a sprained ankle suffered against Mars.
“I didn’t practice all week,” he said. “I was a little tired at the beginning (of the third quarter), but I felt all right. It was nice having a couple of long runs.”
Tuzikow rushed for a team-high 96 yards on seven carries.
“Maybe he should be hurt every week,” coach Mike King said with a chuckle.
Springdale, in the playoffs for a local-record nine straight years, held off Western Beaver, 35-14. It forced five turnovers, including three interceptions by senior Bill Arch. Western Beaver tested Springdale’s cornerbacks, but the Dynamos didn’t waver.
“The kids handled things well when the pressure was on,” coach Chuck Wagner said. “That’s what we needed them to do.”
Springdale, which rushed for 358 yards while attempting just two passes, is the No. 5 seed; Monessen is No. 4. The teams have met four times in the postseason in the past seven years, with Springdale winning all of them.
Deer Lakes, making its first playoff appearance in school history, dropped a 34-21 decision to Beaver in Class AA. A magical run had put the spotlight on the Lancers and their football-hungry community.
“It didn’t go how we planned,” coach Todd Hazlett said.
Highlands (Class AAA, lost to Thomas Jefferson) and Plum (Class AAAA, lost to Mt. Lebanon) also can build on postseason appearances.