There are few slow points in the Freddie football schedule this year as they moved to the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference and Friday night was no different as they headed west to Richwood in week seven of football. The North Union Wildcats came into the evening on a undefeated season and high spirited for their homecoming ceremonies. Able to outlast the scoring shootout on the evening, the Freddies just couldn’t finish it off in a 40-54 loss.
“They are a very good team. We played tough teams up front and we expect to win games, we know we can compete,” said Fredericktown Head Coach Brian Baum. “Our boys came out hard and came out fast and were able to force a turnover early and get scoring. This game came down to 1:30 right there before the half that got away from us there.”
North Union received to start the game, and right from the start accumulated yards to drive sixty-yards with little resistance before the Freddies saw the first of several opportunities. Second and goal the Wildcats tried to reach over the goal line but fumbled when hit by Colton Lybarger. The ball came loose and Lybarger scooped it up to run back to the North Union 40-yard line quickly knocking the wind out of the Wildcats.
“It was great to be able to start the game out like that and three huge turnovers for us tonight were big to stay in the game. That’s what we have to do and what we preach,” said Baum.
Setup with nice field position the line opened holes and bought time for quarterback Austin Hathaway to make huge advances downfield, the longest on a 33-yard push to set them up at the North Union three-yard line. Tyler Ruhl made the final run to the end zone to get the Freddies on the board and get the crowd pumped up.
North Union took just under four minutes to tie the game at seven with costly penalties on their part chopping away at their first quarter momentum and position.
The Freddie offense continued to battle with Hathaway and Ruhl punching downfield on a drive that lasted just under five minutes culminating in a six-yard pass from Hathaway to Chris Hoar.
An interception by Matt Giffin on the Wildcats next drive at the Freddie endzone may have prevented a quick strike, but Fredericktown went three-and-out on their following drive. North Union had the ball 27 seconds and on a long 76-yard pass found the end zone to pull ahead 14-13.
Fredericktown’s offense opened the playbook a little and put Devin Kessler, Sam Armstrong, and Hoar to work before Hathaway took it the final six-yards. Tyler Ruhl made a successful conversion run to pull ahead 21-14 with just under two minutes left in the half. That’s when the game took a drastic turn.
North Union scored three times in the final 1:56 in the first half. The first points were on a two-play drive and 29-yard pass to tie it up. The second came with 26 seconds on the clock before halftime as the Freddies handed them great field position on a short kick. The final of the half was helped as the Wildcats intercepted Hathaway and on their first play hit the end zone with a 61-yard pass.
“We know how to defend that we just have to hustle. We were well aware of their speed, but the four times we didn’t cover, they got away from us and it hurt us right before the half.”
Fredericktown matched North Union score for score in the second half of the game with Kessler again setting the Freddies up with a solid first down as he ran a beeline down the sideline to the Wildcat 41. Hathaway and Ruhl continued to find a way before Ruhl found ran it form two-yards out, taking 5:30 to score.
“There was a lot of heart and desire in this game,” said Coach Baum. “We pushed character all week, and character will push you through games like this, and our boys showed that tonight.”
North Union wasted no time on their next possession as they trucked 68-yards downfield on the first play. Where the Wildcats had speed on the offense, the Freddie offense had determination and heart that never really stopped. Four minutes and sixty-yards later after work from Armstrong, Hoar, and Hathaway, it was Ruhl that again punched through on a two-yard run, but still left the Freddies still trailing.
Two plays after a decent return the Wildcats pounced again finding every possible way to make it downfield in a hurry. On a 41-yard pass they found the end zone to keep a two-touchdown lead that would carry the remainder of the game.
Hathaway scored on a 21-yard well-earned keeper just over two minutes into the fourth quarter, but they just couldn’t keep the pace in the final minutes in the game as the Wildcats went on to score on a 13-yard pass to end the game.
Fredericktown now 3-4 (2-1 MOAC Blue) will take on Highland this Friday night for what is always an excellent rivalry game.