Big fourth quarter gives Fredericktown a 42-20 victory
UTICA — When a pair of winless teams face each other on a full moon during a Friday the 13th match up, just about anything can happen — and it just about did.
Between long touchdown scoring plays, steady drives shredded by penalties, a lightning delay and fortunes turning on interceptions and fumbles, Friday’s battle between the visiting Fredericktown Freddies and the host Utica Redskins had as much to offer as any evenly-matched battle could. When it was all over, Fredericktown was no longer winless, running for three fourth-quarter touchdowns to upend the Redskins, 42-20.
“We have a bunch of guys who are learning each week, and that’s what we’re looking to do here,” said Fredericktown Beau Wolford. “They responded to some adversity, and that’s what I wanted to see. Hopefully, this is a springboard to move forward.”
The Redskins appeared to be fired up coming out on to the field after an extended halftime due to lightning. After giving up a touchdown, the Redskins struck twice in the third quarter. With Fredericktown on top, 22-7, Utica got a touchdown on a 45-yard pass from quarterback Collin McCullough (12-for 24, 124 yards, two TDs, one INT) to teammate Ethan Adams. Then, with 2:17 remaining in the third, Utica’s Clayton Cummons picked off a pass from Fredericktown quarterback Terry Fearn (5-for-12, 179 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs), running it in 17 yards to score. That cut the Freddies lead to 22-20.
“We got within two points and they answered us right away,” said Utica head coach Charley Rowley. “We made some big plays, but they won the fourth quarter and won the game.”
With eight and a half minutes to go in the game, lightning struck again. Only this time, it was Fredericktown linebacker Gene Fitzpatrick, who intercepted a McCullough pass at the Utica 25 and ran it back to the 10. That set up a 10-yard touchdown run by Fredericktown’s Mason Finnell. It also threw the momentum to the Freddies at a critical time.
“We were a little discouraged in the third quarter,” Fitzpatrick said. “Getting that interception felt amazing. I was sort of like a deer in the headlights when I got it. I’ve never caught an interception — not even in practice. It was my Cinderella moment, and I took it.”
Before the game was over, Finnell (7 rushes, 90 yards) scored on a run of 18 yards, and teammate Corey Webb (10 rushes, 68 yards) ran another touchdown from two yards, putting the game on ice.
“Offensively, I give 100 percent of the credit to our line.” Webb said. “Everything that we proceeded on, started with the line doing their job. Defensively, we all just swarmed to the ball, shut down their receivers and got the ball back.”
It was a game that had started out a bit rough for both teams. Despite racking up 60 negative yards on seven penalties in the first half, the Freddies put the ball in the end zone twice. On their first drive of the game, the Freddies took an 8-0 lead when Fearn hit Kailin Horlacher on a 64-yard touchdown pass.
The Redskins came right back on their ensuing possession, getting the ball at their own 32-yard line and driving all the way down to the Freddie 11. With a little over two minutes left in the first quarter, McCollough passed to Cummons, who made a leaping touchdown catch in the corner of the end zone.
The Freddies were ahead 8-7, but they still battled penalty issues. Then, the Freddies got the ball near the end of the first half, working it down to the Utica 35-yard line, where Fearn threw it to Finnell for a 35-yard touchdown pass with only 18 seconds left in the half.
On top 16-7, Fredericktown opted for the onside kick and recovered the ball on its own 44. A Fearn pass to Horlacher got the ball inside the 10-yard line, but with only seconds left before halftime. A desperate effort by Fredericktown running back Corey Webb fell short when he was tackled less than a foot shy of the goal line as time ran out.
With lightning on the horizon south of Utica high school, a lightning delay was invoked soon after the beginning of halftime. The field was cleared around 8:30 p.m. and play did not resume again until 9:57 p.m.
“We wanted to come out of that super-long intermission and just win, so we just put out foot to the gas,” Fearn said. “That was the longest football game I’ve ever played in my entire life, so winning it feels pretty good.”
The Freddies’ offense rolled up a total of 483 yards, while the defense held Utica to 47 rushing yards for the game and two touchdowns.
“For the last month we’ve been harping on making sure our guys finish,” Wolford said. “We really wanted to come out in the second half and have our offense put up a score and our defense make a stop. That was our challenge to our guys. We didn’t want them to sit in the locker room for 90 minutes and come out flat.”