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Emmaus gets past Freedom

The Emmaus Hornets controlled the scrimmage line in defeating the Freedom Patriots 13-6 in an early-season battle for dominance in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference’s South Division last Friday night at East Penn School District Stadium.

The loss dropped Freedom to 1-1, and improved Emmaus’ record to 2-0.

“We didn’t play good enough to win in week two,” said Freedom coach Jason Roeder. “...We have to take a look at what went wrong and try to fix it.”

Freedom’s offense was some of what “went wrong.” They spent most of the night going nowhere, gaining 164 yards in totality. Quarterback Brian Taylor was under assault as his passing pockets routinely and quickly disintegrated. Statistically, the numbers did not look too bad - 7-for-15 for 70 yards. But Taylor fired two interceptions as the Emmaus pass rush was closing in. Other times he took off running as the thundering heard was about stomp him, at best gaining a few measly yards.

Talented Freedom running back Deante Crawford fared better, gaining 92 yards on 21 carries. Even this wonderful runner, however, did not have a superior night. The Freedom offensive line and backs struggled to open pathways for him, as they battled Emmaus defensive agility and muscle. The Hornets flew to the ball, punishing Crawford for his brief forays of acquiring artificial turf.

The Freedom defense was better. In fact, the unit kept the Patriots in this game by utilizing the “bend but don’t break” school of defensive philosophy. Freedom defenders allowed yardage, but only two touchdowns.

Unlike recent Emmaus teams known more for their finesse and superb skill players, the Hornets won this game up front. An example of this dominance happened in the first half, in which they ran more offensive plays than the Patriots by a two-to-one margin. But time of possession does not mean points, and the Hornets had nothing to show for their dominance after 24 minutes of action, as at the half the game was scoreless. The Hornets heavily outgained Freedom, but a shanked, chip-shot 24-yard field goal, red-zone failure and a stiffening Patriot defense kept the Emmaus goose egg.

After receiving the second half kickoff, the Patriots again went three-and-out. The Hornets began another inspired drive, except this time they breached the Freedom end zone. Emmaus quarterback Josiah Williams first fired a 20-yard pass to Chase Fotta. The Hornets then picked up an easy five after an offside penalty moved the ball to the Freedom 40. On the next play, the Hornet offensive line guarded Williams like a posse of Dobermans protecting a meat truck. With ample time, the junior quarterback fired a strike to Jaiden Robinson, who left a Freedom defender grasping early September evening air, and carried another across the goal line for the touchdown and a 7-0 Emmaus lead with 9:01 left in the third quarter.

In the third quarter’s final minutes the Patriots cobbled together their only quality drive, traveling 67 yards and scoring on a Crawford 13-yard-run on the fourth quarter’s first play. A botched snap ruined the PAT and Emmaus still led, 7-6.

Freedom had a golden opportunity to take the lead on the next drive when defensive back Alexie Sanger picked off a Williams pass on the Patriot 34, and raced to the Emmaus 34 before he was hauled down. Crawford, with good blocking, rushed for eight and 15 yards on consecutive plays, twisting and turning before the Emmaus defense finally got him down. With the ball now on the Emmaus 15, the game arguably turned. Once again, unable to control the Emmaus rush, a holding call, followed by an intentional grounding call took Freedom back to their own 46 yard-line.

After a good punt by Owen Johnson pinned the Hornets at their own 9, Emmaus administered the death blow. Running back Tylik Jarvis was the key, showcasing speed, agility and strength in hammering Freedom on runs of 14 and 12 yards.

Now conscious of Jarvis, the Freedom defense stuffed the middle, hoping to gang tackle the muscle-bound runner the next time he touched the rock. On a third-straight run into the line, Jarvis rammed into the mass of humanity, bounced outside and simply exploded for a 65-yard touchdown run as Freedom’s secondary chased in vain. The run gave Emmaus a 13-6 lead after a two-point attempt failed. Jarvis’ monster night included 142 yards on 16 carries.

”We’re going to ride the bus home the right way and stay together and keep a good attitude,” Roeder told his team after the loss.

The Patriots host Easton at 7 p.m. this Friday night at Bethlehem Area School District Stadium.