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FREDERICKTOWN — Utica coach Charlie Rowley decided to go for broke Friday. After watching Fredericktown gash his defense on the first play of the game, he said if they were going down, they were going down with a fight.
The Redskins turned ultra-aggressive after the first drive, using several big plays to knock off the host Freddies, 38-22, in non-league action.
“It was a pretty simple defensive approach — we wanted to be the aggressor,” Rowley said. “So we turned them loose and let them have some fun. We decided to be aggressive and go make something happen. Once the kids got a taste, it was all they needed.”
Fredericktown’s John Robbins broke free for 74 yards on the first play of the game, barely being kept out of the end zone when Ethan Adams tracked him down at the 1-yard line. But, the Freddies (0-3) were able to punch it in on the next play when quarterback Terry Fearn pushed his way into the end zone.
But, from there, it was nearly all Redskins (1-2).
Two blocked punts, a fumble recovery and several big plays offensively turned the tide in the favor of Utica, giving the Redskins the decisive victory.
Garrett Meyers had the first big play offensively, squirting through a tiny hole in the line to race 40 yards for the tying score midway through the first quarter.
After Fearn’s second touchdown run of the game, it was Mack Marston’s turn for a big offensive play for the Redkins. Marston outjumped the Freddie defenders on a long pass play, then broke several tackles en route to a 79-yard score that knotted the game back up at 14.
“That was just a great effort play. Mack went up and got the ball, then I felt like he may have been wrapped up but he broke loose. Mack is just a great player who made a great play,” Rowley said.
Utica had given up 150 yards rushing to the Freddies in the first quarter, but held them in check the rest of the way, allowing just 90 in the final three frames. An aggressive, blitzing defense recorded six plays for loss during that time.
“They blitzed us heavy in the middle toward the end of the second quarter. Some of our guys had trouble seeing the blitz. That’s something we’ve got to get better at — recognizing the pressure and making the adjustment,” Fredericktown coach Beau Wolford said.
The Redskins also blocked two Fredericktown punts and forced a fumble. Those big defensive plays led to two scores and gave the Redskins a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
“Those were big plays, those two blocked punts. Then, after forcing a turnover, we fumble at a critical time,” Wolford said. “It’s plays like that when you’re already hurt. You can’t have big mistakes like that and expect to come out on the right side of things.”
Utica also got a safety when Clayton Cummons tackled Fearn in the endzone after a bad snap.
The final Utica score came on a 35-yard jaunt by Meyers late in the third quarter.
Fredericktown got one final TD when Fearn connected with Kailin Horlacher on a 21-yard pass play with 4 minutes remaining in the game.
Meyers led the Redskins with 164 yards rushing on 29 carries and three touchdowns. Marston caught four passes for 106 yards receiving and ran the ball three times for 13 yards and a score. Ryan Cree rushed for 29 yards on just 11 carries.
The Freddies were led by Robbins, who had 172 yards rushing on 16 carries. He had seven carries over 10 yards. Fearn added 58 yards rushing and was 9 of 17 passing for 93 more. Jack Fitzpatrick checked in with 20 yards rushing and caught three passes for 34 yards.
Both teams start league play next Friday. Fredericktown plays host to Northmor, while Utica travels to Licking Valley.