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Hornet defense limits Freedom

The Emmaus Hornets controlled the line of scrimmage 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 to 2-0. The Hornets had lost seven of their last eight games to Freedom

“It feels good,” said Emmaus coach Harold Fairclough after the win. “It gives our kids a little confidence, not that they lost confidence, but when somebody beats you that often it’s good to get one.”

The Hornets got one thanks to a solid, team effort. Nowhere was the effort more evident than defensively. These 11 young men tormented Freedom quarterback Brian Taylor early and often, flushing him out of his disintegrating pocket several times or hurrying often errant throws.

Emmaus also held in check talented Freedom runner Deante Crawford, who gained 92 yards on 21 carriers and scored the Pats’ only touchdown. But Emmaus defenders punished him when he carried the ball, flying to the ball and making him earn everything he got.

“They played tough,” Fairclough said. “The goal going into this game was to play fast, play physical and to get off on third down. They executed that.”

Emmaus won this game upfront. In the first half the Hornets 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. The halftime score was 0-0.

The Hornets heavily outgained Freedom, but a missed 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.

The drive began when Emmaus quarterback Josiah Williams fired a 20-yard pass to Chase Fotta. After a Freedom penalty, the Hornet offensive line guarded Williams like a posse of dogs protecting a meat truck. 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 on the extra-point attempt kept Emmaus ahead 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-yard line, 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 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 its 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 sophomore 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 score gave Emmaus a 13-6 lead after a two-point attempt failed. Jarvis’ monster night included 142 yards on 16 carries.

“It just feels great to beat Freedom,” Jarvis said after the contest. “Coming into this game we had lost seven of the last eight games [against Freedom]. Just to get that win, to get it through, feels real good.”

Overall, Emmaus gained 337 yards. Williams played solid game in only his second game as quarterback, completing 16 of 27 passes for 154 yards and one touchdown, although he did toss two interceptions. Defensively, Emmaus held Freedom to 164 yards of total offense.

PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZ The Hornets' Aidan Garrett clung to this Freedom ball carrier for several yards before pulling him down.
PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZ Emmaus running back Tylik Jarvis piled up 142 yards on 16 carries in Friday's win over Freedom.