By ROB HAMILTON
A slow start combined with a second-half scoring explosion by Fredericktown doomed Mount Gilead to a 53-15 loss at home Friday night in a game that was more competitive than the final score indicated.
The Freddies led the entire way, though, thanks to a pair of touchdowns scored in the opening 7:14 of action. After Mount Gilead’s game-opening drive went three-and-out, Fredericktown blocked their punt attempt to get the ball on the MG 18. On the very next play, quarterback Dillon Smith scrambled the distance for the touchdown, with the extra point giving the visitors a quick 7-0 lead.
The Indians would have to punt again on their next possession, giving the ball back to Fredericktown at the Indian 40. This time, running back Brenden Reed did much of the work, tallying a 23-yard run and recording a touchdown on a two-yard carry to make the score 13-0.
“They’re very well-coached and have played the same scheme for awhile,” said Indian coach Jason Ross of the Fredericktown offense. “Their kids block hard and their ball carriers run hard.”
However, Mount Gilead’s offense would start to assert itself after falling into a two-score hole. The ground game carried the Indians down the field, as quarterback Deondre Cook, as well as running backs Anthony Clark and Jonah Barnett, moved the ball to the Freddie 20 before Cook took to the air, hitting Mason Mollohan for a 20-yard scoring play. Zack Foster added the extra point to bring the Indians within six.
Opening the second quarter with the ball, the Freddies responded by moving 65 yards in seven plays, getting a 38-yard pass from Smith to Reed to score and then adding a two-point run by Smith to take a 21-7 lead.
Mount Gilead came back with an 11-play scoring drive to stay close. Once again, the run game moved them down the field, with Foster recording an 11-yard run and Cook scrambling for nine. On the 31-yard line and facing second-and-nine, Cook was able to hit Tyler Bland in the end zone for a touchdown. Barnett then run for the two-point conversion to make it a six-point game again with 3:38 remaining in the half.
It would only take two plays for the Freddies to add to that lead, though. After recovering an onside kick, the visitors had the ball on the MG 49. After gaining no yards on their first play, Smith hit Kirk Manns in full stride for a 49-yard scoring pass to make it a 27-15.
The Indians drove down the field, getting Cook completions of 19 yards to Bland and 17 yards to Hunter Trimmer to help them move to the 22 of Fredericktown. A Freddie sack pushed them back nine yards, but on third-and-19, Cook was able to hit Austin Vanderkooi for what seemed to be a 31-yard touchdown. However, an offensive pass interference penalty negated that score and a final attempt barely fell incomplete to allow the Freddies to go to the locker room up by 12.
Ross felt his team played better football in the first half than in their game at Cardington last week and, more importantly, he felt their mindset was better.
“Our kids battled,” he said. “I was very upset with their attitude and body language last week, but it was much better tonight.”
The coach noted that his team has new home jerseys for this year, with the word “FAMILY” printed on the back to reflect a sense of teamwork started by his seniors, in particular quarterback Kolby Fisher, during his first year with the Indians. The coach felt his players showed that sense of family with their effort against Fredericktown, citing one player in particular.
“I don’t like to single out an individual guy, but Jasper Miller jumped in at center tonight,” he said. “Pre-game, our starter hurt his ankle about 30 minutes before the game and Jasper stepped in and played his butt off and played well.”
The Freddies would take control of the game in the second half, though. On their first possession, they drove 48 yards for a touchdown to take a 33-15 lead.
Mount Gilead would continue their strong offensive play, driving to the Fredericktown 26. However, on three straight plays they would lose yards and then turned the ball over on downs when they couldn’t convert a fourth-and-19.
While they would stop the Freddies on their next drive, they would then turn the ball over on two straight possessions, leading to a pair of Fredericktown touchdowns that made the score 47-15 early in the fourth. The visitors added one more touchdown to provide their final margin of victory.
Ross felt that his team had some positives to build on after the game, noting that they just need to get better at execution.
“I’ve been involved with teams on both sides where you see them mentally break and I don’t think we did that,” he said. “We had some technique breakdowns, but the kids battled to the end. We just have to finish drives and tackle better.”
Next week, Mount Gilead (1-4, 0-2) looks to get their first league win at Elgin, while the Freddies (4-1, 2-0) travel to East Knox.
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS