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Game of the Week

Ellwood comes up short against Freedom

Ellwood City (7) vs. Freedom (20)
Written: Sep 05, 2009
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By JOE SAGER

ncsports@ncnewsonline.com

Ellwood City Lincoln High’s football team wanted to make a statement last night.

Instead, Freedom delivered the message.

The Bulldogs kept the ball for nearly the entire second half as they held on to post a 20-7 win over the Wolverines in Midwestern Athletic Conference action at Helling Stadium.

Ellwood City (0-1 conference, 0-1 overall) hoped to snap its long losing streak in front of its home crowd on opening night. Trailing 14-7 at halftime, the Wolverines seemed poised to have a good shot at earning their first win since Sept. 23, 2006. Alas, Freedom (1-0, 1-0) dominated possession in the second half.

“We were down 14-7 at half and it was anybody’s game. We needed to come out and make a statement in the third quarter and we didn’t. In reality, they made a statement by keeping the ball,” Ellwood City coach Don Phillips said. “We’re going to rebound and continue to work hard. It’s going to happen for us hopefully, sooner rather than later – but it’s going to happen for us.”

The Bulldogs churned through Ellwood City’s defense with bruising running backs Joe Ermi and Jeremy Herzog, along with fleet-footed quarterback Derek Lehocky.

“Everybody wants to get off on a high note. I was pretty pleased how we finished the game,” Freedom coach Mark Lyons said. “You gotta finish the game on offense. If you’re finishing games on offense, you’re going to win some games. We did that by grinding it out, eating up some clock and doing some things that we want to start developing.”

The victory was Freedom’s first since opening last year with a win over Ellwood City, which now owns a 25-game losing skid.

“Anytime you win a football game, it’s positive,” Lyons said. “But, they are not going to shut down the school, give us a day off and march us around the town because of a win. We still have a lot of work to do. It’s not a sprint; it’s a marathon. We’ll take this win, savor it and go back to work.”

The Bulldogs, who took advantage of five turnovers in last year’s triumph, capitalized on more miscues last night. Blown assignments on defense led to Herzog’s 54-yard TD run in the first quarter. A blocked punt set up Herzog’s second score. Finally, Freedom thwarted Ellwood City’s first scoring chance by intercepting a pass in the end zone.

“Football is a game of momentum. We took some opportunities on their miscues; you need to do that,” Lyons said. “The team that doesn’t turn the ball over usually has a heck of a lot better chance of winning that football game. That’s what we stressed to our guys.”

Just before the Bulldogs blocked the punt, Ellwood City had a quality scoring opportunity, thanks to a trick play. On a double reverse, tight end Ronnie Grymes lofted a long pass to Codey Hunter. However, it appeared a Freedom defender leapt and appeared to slightly deflect the ball before it got to Hunter. As a result, he juggled and dropped what would have been a sure 73-yard TD pass.

“Codey had his hands there and the ball just tipped away,” Phillips said. “If he does make the catch, I’d like to believe that was a score because the defender did fall down. Then, who knows how the complexion of the game changes?”

The Wolverines scored with 4:23 left in the second quarter when quarterback Gino Ceriani kept the ball for a 6-yard TD run. However, Ellwood City was unable to parlay that momentum into any second-half results. The Wolverines only managed one first down in the final two quarters — it came with 52 seconds remaining in the contest.

“We have to rebound and get ready because the next games just get tougher. I think a lot of our kids grew up,” Phillips said. “We had a number of sophomores and juniors starting for the first time. We had a lot of kids out there trying to adjust to the speed of the game and the game itself and execute their assignments. I know the butterflies were there. It’s a continuation of growing pains. They need take that frustration and, hopefully, turn it into anger that this won’t happen again.”

The Wolverines received a scare when Ceriani went down with a left ankle injury with 2:20 to play in the third quarter. He limped off the field with assistance and was able to walk around on the sidelines with the aid of crutches. His condition seemed to improve late in the game as he put his put his gear back on and joined his teammates near the bench area, but he did not return to game action. Tyler Lucarelli, who started the game at quarterback originally, replaced Ceriani.

“He’ll start on rehab (today) and we’ll see how he is by next Friday,” Phillips said. “Knowing Gino, he is a tough kid and he wants to be out here. He’ll be back as quick as his body allows him.”

FREEDOM ELLWOOD

13 First downs 10

266 Yards Rushing 112

8 Yards Lost 47

258 Net Rushing 65

6 Passes Attempted 11

1 Passes Completed 4

0 Passes Intercepted 1

-7 Yards Passing 38

251 Total Yards 103

2-1 Fumbles-Lost 3-2

3-28.3 Punts-Average 4-25.8

3-25 Penalties-Yards 4-20

FREEDOM 7 7 0 6 — 20

ELLWOOD 0 7 0 0 —7

Scoring plays

FREEDOM — Jeremy Herzog, 54-yard run (Tanner Messing kick).

FREEDOM — Herzog, 3-yard run (Messing kick).

ELLWOOD — Gino Ceriani, 6-yard run (Scott Lewis kick).

FREEDOM — Joe Ermi, 6-yard run (kick failed).

GAME SCOREBOARD
Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 OT SCORE
Ellwood City 0 7 0 0 0 7
Freedom 7 7 0 6 0 20
GAME OF THE WEEK ARCHIVE
One step short 12/3/16 Neshannock season comes to end 11/27/16 The (im)perfect season 11/19/16 WPIAL championship game 11/18/16 New Castle advances to WPIAL Class 4A title game 11/11/16 Neshannock routs Serra Catholic 11/4/16 Neshannock hosts Serra Catholic 11/4/16 Thriller 10/28/16 Union at Shenango 10/28/16 'Canes stumble; playoff berth on line in finale 10/21/16 New Castle hosts Ringgold on Senior Night 10/21/16 Wilmington falls in battle of unbeatens 10/15/16 Wilmington at Hickory 10/13/16 On the defensive 10/8/16 Neshannock hosts Riverside 10/7/16 New Castle struggles in home loss to Mars 9/30/16 New Castle hosts Mars 9/30/16 'Canes hope to even score against Mars 9/30/16 Stayin' alive 9/23/16 Union hosts Western Beaver 9/23/16 Ground assault 9/17/16 Wilmington hosts Sharpsville 9/16/16 Too many mistakes for Laurel 9/10/16 Riverside travels to Laurel 9/9/16 Neshannock routs North Catholic 9/3/16 Canes quipped 8/31/16 A good mix 8/27/16 Black Friday 11/14/15 Wilmington vs. Cambridge Springs 11/13/15 Defense steps up for Lancers 11/7/15 Neshannock vs. Bentworth 11/5/15 No doubt about it 10/31/15 Neshannock vs. Union 10/30/15 Crowning effort 10/24/15 Shenango vs. Riverside 10/23/15 Playoff hopes dashed 10/17/15 Laurel vs. Beaver 10/16/15 A costly brawl 10/10/15 New Castle vs. Central Valley 10/9/15 Inching closer 10/3/15 Union vs. Shenango 10/2/15 'They had us on our heels' 9/26/15 South Side Beaver at Union 9/25/15 Shootout 9/19/15 Neshannock at Riverside 9/18/15 Pivotal 9/13/15 Neshannock, Shenango clash Saturday 9/11/15 Under the weather 9/5/15 New Brighton at Laurel 9/4/15 Heartbreaker 11/15/14 Neshannock vs. Clairton 11/14/14 Weathering the storm 11/8/14 Neshannock vs. Jeannette 11/7/14 Fast and furious 11/1/14 Springdale at Shenango 10/31/14 Opportunity lost 10/25/14 Sharpsville at Wilmington 10/24/14 One for the books 10/18/14 Ellwood City at Laurel 10/17/14 Ground war 10/11/14 Ellwood City at Mohawk 10/10/14 Drenched with happiness 10/4/14 South Side Beaver at Shenango 10/3/14 The perfect storm 9/27/14 Moon at New Castle 9/26/14 Coming up short 9/20/14 West Middlesex at Wilmington 9/19/14 Back in the saddle 9/13/14 Neshannock at Riverside 9/12/14 Tough act to follow 9/6/14 New Brighton at Ellwood City 9/5/14 'We will get better' 8/30/14 West Allegheny vs. New Castle 8/29/14 End of the road 11/16/13 Neshannnock vs. North Catholic 11/15/13 'Sharks in a frenzy' 11/9/13 Lancers advance to WPIAL semifinals 11/9/13 Neshannock vs. Monessen 11/8/13 The best defense 11/2/13 Neshannock vs. Brentwood 11/1/13 'We battled to the end' 10/26/13 New Brighton at Mohawk 10/25/13 Costly blunders 10/19/13 Sto-Rox at Laurel 10/18/13 West Allegheny rallies in fourth to defeat 'Canes 10/12/13 West Allegheny at New Castle 10/11/13 Mohawk wins thriller behind McConahy, Barber 10/5/13 Ellwood City at Mohawk 10/4/13 Spartans ride big second half to win over Union 9/28/13 Laurel at Union 9/27/13 Burkes stars as Lancers escape upset bid 9/21/13 Shenango at Neshannock 9/20/13 So close ... 9/13/13 Neshannock at Sto-Rox 9/12/13 Run to glory 9/7/13 Laurel at Neshannock 9/6/13 Dando, Spartans roll over South Side Beaver 9/5/13 South Side Beaver vs. Laurel 8/30/13 Turnovers spell doom for Wilmington in D-10 title game 11/26/12 Wilmington vs. Hickory 11/24/12 Caught in a 'Bear' trap 11/17/12 Neshannock vs. Clairton in WPIAL Class A semifinals 11/15/12 Neshannock advances 11/10/12 Neshannock vs. Monessen 11/9/12 Neshannock vs. Monessen 11/9/12 Neshannock vs. Monessen 11/8/12 Neshannock advances 11/3/12 Neshannock vs. Jefferson-Morgan 11/2/12 Down and out 10/27/12 New Castle at Hopewell 10/26/12 Pugh paces Wilmington to win over Sharon 10/22/12 Wilmington vs. Sharon 10/19/12 Mohawk falls to Beaver 10/13/12 Beaver vs. Mohawk 10/12/12 ‘We tip our hats to them’ 10/8/12 Neshannock at Rochester 10/5/12 Big-play display for Union 9/29/12 Union vs. Laurel 9/28/12 Lancers rout Shenango for fourth win 9/24/12 Blend of old, new sparks Union win 9/22/12 Union hosts Western Beaver 9/21/12 ’Hounds rise up for win over Hickory 9/15/12 Wilmington vs. Hickory 9/14/12 Milestone victory 9/10/12 New Castle at Riverside 9/7/12 699 and counting 9/1/12 New Castle vs. Central Valley 8/31/12 Turnovers lead to season-ending loss for Wilmington 11/21/11 Wilmington vs. General McLane 11/17/11 End of the dream 11/12/11 Ellwood vs. Greensburg Central 11/11/11 Ellwood advances 11/5/11 Ellwood City vs. Freeport 11/4/11 Mixed reviews 10/29/11 New Castle vs. Blackhawk 10/28/11 Wilmington rolls to Region 3 title 10/22/11 Wilmington vs. Sharon 10/21/11 It's Polka time 10/15/11 Ellwood City vs. Laurel 10/14/11 Aliquippa cruises past Ellwood City 10/8/11 Aliquippa vs. Ellwood City 10/7/11 Wilmington holds on for thrilling win over Hickory 10/1/11 Wilmington vs. Hickory 9/30/11 Union pulls away for win over South Side Beaver 9/24/11 South Side Beaver at Union 9/23/11 Big plays spell doom for New Castle 9/17/11 Central Valley vs. New Castle 9/16/11 Defense delivers for Neshannock 9/10/11 Defense delivers for Neshannock 9/10/11 Neshannock vs. Serra Catholic 9/9/11 New Castle suffers disappointing loss in opener 9/3/11 New Castle vs. Butler 9/2/11 Sharon ends Wilmington’s dominance 11/22/10 ‘Underdog’ Greyhounds move on to a rematch with Sharon 11/15/10 Wilmington vs. North East 11/12/10 Tough lesson 11/6/10 WPIAL Playoffs: Ellwood vs. South Fayette 11/5/10 Wolverines earn playoff berth 10/30/10 Riverside at Ellwood City 10/29/10 'Hounds lose heartbreaker 10/23/10 Wilmington at Sharon 10/22/10 Wolverines outlast Spartans 10/16/10 Laurel at Ellwood City 10/15/10 'Canes fall to Parkway foe Hopewell 10/9/10 New Castle to battle Hopewell 10/8/10 Lancers fall to Western Beaver 10/2/10 Western Beaver at Neshannock 10/1/10 Wolverines fall to Beaver 9/25/10 Beaver at Ellwood City 9/24/10 Shenango runs past South Side 9/20/10 Greyhounds lay hammer down on Greenville 9/11/10 Wilmington vs. Greenville 9/10/10 New Castle comes through 9/4/10 New Castle vs. Butler 9/4/10 Memorable run ends for Wilmington football team 12/14/09 Wilmington vs. Greensburg Catholic 12/11/09 Wilmington survives close call against Forest Hills 12/4/09 Wilmington vs. Forest Hills 12/4/09 Wilmington blanks Sharon 11/28/09 Wilmington vs. Sharon 11/27/09 Laurel season ends with setback 11/21/09 Laurel vs. Clairton in WPIAL semifinals 11/20/09 West Allegheny ends New Castle’s season 11/14/09 New Castle vs. West Allegheny 11/13/09 New Castle holds off Greensburg Salem 11/7/09 New Castle at Greensburg Salem 11/6/09 Wilmington routs Slippery Rock 10/30/09 Slippery Rock at Wilmington 10/30/09 Shenango blanks Union 10/24/09 Shenango at Union 10/23/09 Spartans overwhelm Monaca 10/17/09 Monaca at Laurel 10/16/09 Mohawk outlasts Ellwood City 10/10/09 Mohawk at Ellwood City 10/9/09 Rochester turns back Laurel in battle of unbeatens 10/3/09 Laurel at Rochester 10/2/09 Laurel opportunistic against Neshannock 9/26/09 Neshannock at Laurel 9/25/09 New Castle ends streak against Blackhawk 9/19/09 New Castle hosts Blackhawk 9/18/09 New Castle passes test against Indiana 9/12/09 Indiana at New Castle 9/11/09 Ellwood comes up short against Freedom 9/5/09 Freedom at Ellwood 9/4/09 Wilmington wins PIAA title! 12/15/08 'Hounds headed for Hershey 12/6/08 Wilmington vs. Aliquippa 12/5/08 Wilmington holds off Martinsburg Central 11/29/08 Wilmington edges Slippery Rock for District 10 title 11/24/08 "Down and Out" 11/19/08 New Castle outlasts Indiana in quarterfinals 11/8/08 New Castle vs. Indiana 11/7/08 New Castle vs. Indiana 11/6/08 New Castle routs Franklin Regional 11/1/08 Franklin Regional at New Castle 11/1/08 Laurel wins, but not enough 10/25/08 Shenango at Laurel 10/25/08 New Castle routs Ambridge 10/18/08 Ambridge at New Castle 10/18/08 Rochester blanks Neshannock 10/11/08 Wilmington handles Sharon 10/4/08 South Side Beaver blanks Neshannock 9/27/08 Neshannock vs. South Side Beaver 9/27/08 Neshannock holds off Laurel 9/20/08 Rochester blanks Union 9/13/08 Union-Rochester 9/12/08 Mohawk routs New Brighton 9/6/08 Butler outlasts New Castle 8/30/08
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