Game Summaries & Headlines.
(Photo by Peter Cihelka - Free Lance Star)
A football game at Freedom High School in Woodbridge is always a memorable experience. The Forge football team has only played in that stadium twice (0 for 2), but both times they left with long lasting bad memories.
It was November of 2016 and the Eagles were sitting on top of the #1 seed in the post season before they went to Woodbridge for the final regular season game and mailed in the second half to fall to Freedom 27-17. The loss ripped the top seed away and by losing that game, it forced the Forge to travel to Oscar Smith in another post season that ended in front of the Tiger cage. On Friday night the Forge was handed an even more heart wrenching memory, scoring 21 points in the first 12 minutes and 45 seconds of the contest only to walk away with a 30-27 loss.
Friday nights much bally-hooed contest was an opportunity for the Eagles to get some revenge and they came out swinging. The “good guys” took the opening kickoff and quarterback Madden Lowe led his troops on an 80 yard drive in just 7 plays that culminated in a Lowe pass that was hauled in by Avery Johnson-Edmonds from 39 yards away. Eagles place kicker Phillip Lovelace tacked on the point after and the Eagles from Stafford County were in a frenzy.
The Freedom offense was stumbling and bumbling for almost a quarter and a half as the Forge defense was flexing its muscle. On the third Forge possession of the quarter, they started a drive on their own 32-yard line. This time did not bother with the running game, he hit Elijah Sarratt in stride and the man they call “E” took it 68 yards for the “good guys” second score. Lovelace’s point after gave his team a 14-0 advantage that they took to the second stanza.
The Forge would strike quickly in the second when they drove deep into Freedom territory when Lowe ran into the right corner with 11:15 left until halftime, and the GREEN was ahead 21-0. Now that was the start the Forge needed….but as if I told you before, games at Freedom are memorable. The thing the Forge will remember is after Lowe's run to the pilon, the offense would only score six points the rest of the game…sound familiar?
After the score, the vibe got weird, all of a sudden out of the west three fire trucks arrived on campus. Now I have never heard of anybody trying to stop the Forge offense with fire trucks but as the game went on they did not need Prince William County’s finest. The Freedom offense started to click and the Forge defense was unable to put any pressure on the quarterback. On their next drive that put the Stafford folks in attendance into hand wringing mode. The home team drove 75 yards in 14 plays that was extended on a 4th and 13 from their own 47. Quarterback and punter Quest Powell was in punt formation when he fumbled the snap. He found the ball on the turf and took off getting a much needed first down and they were knocking on the door. The Forge defense was standing tall but on a 4th and goal at the six, Powell tossed a little shovel pass to Jason Hawkins for the home team’s first score.
On the next Freedom possession, Powell had all kinds of time and tossed a 64-yard pass to Umari Hatcher with 2:24 left in the first half. The Freedom point after was partially blocked at the line and the two teams hit the locker rooms with the Forge leading 21-13.
Freedom would remind Forge again that they were coming after receiving the second half kickoff. They drove 42 yards in 4 plays as J.T. Johnson scampered 10 yards to the house for another Freedom score. Freedom took a couple of cracks at the 2-point conversion and it ended when Powell was sacked but Freedom had cut the lead to 21-19 with 9:53 left in the third.
Late in the third, the Forge offense would finally respond when Lowe drilled a pass to Johnson-Edmonds on a crossing route from 24 yards out and it looked like the Eagles had corrected their ailments. Well, not so fast my friend….Powell led Freedom on a 55 yard drive in just five plays connecting with Jason Hawkins on a pass from 38 yards away with 10:19 left in the game. Again, things got weird as both teams received penalties on consecutive tries for a 2-point conversion to tie the game. Finally, on the third try, Freedom hit pay dirt and we were tied at 27-27.
In the final minutes, the home team was able to block a Forge punt and had the ball with under a minute left. Freedom drove the ball down deep in Forge territory and with less than 10 seconds left and kicker Markell Johnson “bulls-eyed” a 20-yard field goal as time expired and the Freedom Eagles who lost the televised pre game pep rally, won the game that counted 30-27.
The Forge has to learn from this and prepare to go back up to Prince William County next Friday night to face the Hylton Bulldogs. Recent contests against Hylton have gone well for the Eagle and they games have been "HYL-FUN"! All the “experts” agree, that the Forge can play with anybody, but in order for them to get where they want to go they have to take these lessons learned and turn them into something positive. If they do that, maybe the memories of these Prince William County games won’t be so long lasting.