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Freeport football caps festive day with first-ever varsity win in home opener

Sports

Freeport football caps festive day with first-ever varsity win in home opener

FREEPORT—The wildest dreams of the founding fathers (and mothers) of the Freeport football program came true Saturday afternoon.

The charming Pownal Road Field complex had its coming out party
highlighted by a solid 48-minute performance and the Falcons' first
varsity home contest resulted in a first-ever victory, 24-6, over
fellow first-year program Sacopee Valley.

Senior Miguel Beckles rushed for 153 yards and three scores,
freshman Dan Burke had a pair of impressive one-handed interceptions
and Freeport pulled away in the second half to put the punctuation mark
on a near-perfect day.

"It's a great step for us," said Beckles. "I'm very happy. Now we
have hope for the rest of our games to come out and do the same
thing. We're just trying to prove we're not a club team anymore."

Culmination

After several seasons competing at the junior varsity level and
perhaps one year later than many wanted to make the leap, Freeport joined
Western Class C as a varsity program this autumn.

The Falcons had to go to powerhouse Dirigo in their first game and were humbled, 74-6.

Saturday was a different story.

Despite an occasional drizzle, the large and festive crowd was treated to a show by the hosts.

Sacopee got possession first, but three plays gained just one yard,
necessitating a punt. The Hawks never got the kick off as a bad snap
led to a 23-yard loss, setting Freeport up on the Sacopee 23.

Four plays later, the Falcons had their first lead. Beckles did the
honors, running  eight yards up the gut for the score. Senior Kyle Moore's
two-point conversion rush was stopped short of the goal line, but
Freeport had a 6-0 advantage.

"We were really ready to play this game," said Beckles. "We lost to Dirigo, but were
ready to come out and prove we can win a game, that we're a varsity
team. The crowd really pumped us up. I was happy the fans came."

The hosts then got another break on the third play of the ensuing
Hawks' series when senior quarterback Heath Cormier's throw was snared
one-handed by Burke, who returned the ball to the Sacopee 40.

But this time, Freeport couldn't take advantage and turned the ball over on downs.

The visitors then embarked on a long drive for their lone score.
Sacopee marched 61 yards on 15 plays and ate up over seven minutes.
Fullback Ken Corvin did most of the damage, rushing seven times for 36
yards, capping the drive with a 1-yard plunge to tie the score. The
Hawks then missed the extra point keeping it a 6-6 game.

After the Falcons were forced to punt on their next series, Sacopee moved
into Freeport territory, but the Falcons' defense rose up on
fourth-and-3 and brought Cormier down for just a one-yard gain.

Two plays later, the hosts were ahead to stay.

After senior Calvin Burgess rushed for 11 yards and a first down at the
Sacopee 44, Beckles took a handoff, broke through the line and outraced
the defense to the end zone. The two-point conversion failed, but the
Falcons had a 12-6 advantage.

"Miguel is our heart-and-soul," said Freeport coach Rob Grover. "He runs hard every play and gives his all. He has great speed."

"I really couldn't do it without the linemen," Beckles added. "They did a great job.
Because of them, I was able to see the hole and take off. I give great
credit to them."

Late
in the half, the Hawks moved from their 46 to the Freeport 13, but
Cormier threw incomplete on fourth-and-eight, ending the threat and
allowing Freeport to enjoy its first halftime lead.

The Hawks held a 105-77 advantage in yards in the first half. Corvin
had 84 yards and a score on 17 carries. Beckles answered with 60 yards
and a TD on seven carries. 

After
Freeport went three-and-out to start the second half, Sacopee drove and
threatened to take the lead. Corvin gained 40 yards on eight rushes,
but on third-and-nine from the Falcons 10, Cormier was robbed by Burke
again, as the freshman ended the 7:11 drive with another
one-handed pick.

Freeport took advantage with a long drive of its
own, running 4:44 off the clock and marching 89 yards
on 11 plays. A 25-yard burst by Beckles got it started and moved the
ball to the 48. As the third period gave way to the fourth, a pair of
Moore runs got the ball to the 28. Beckles then rambled for 24 yards
set up first-and-goal. Two plays later, Beckles ran up the gut for
another TD. The two-point attempt was no good, but the Falcons had
extended their advantage to 18-6.

Sacopee's last, best
chance to rally was ended by a sack from Freeport junior Jake
Deppmeyer, who not only dropped Cormier for 13 yards, but also knocked
him out of the game with an injury. Blake Cormier
stepped in under center and three plays later threw an interception to
Falcons junior Matt MacMillan.

Freeport started its next drive at
its 35 and 3:31 later was in the end zone once more. This time it took
eight plays, highlighted by a 22-yard run by Beckles and a 15-yard run
by Moore, with a five-yard facemask penalty tacked on for good measure.
After the Hawks were offsides, senior Calvin Burgess ran in from the 2
with 2:39 to play, essentially salting away the 24-6 win.

The Falcons defense forced one more three-and-out and Freeport ran out the clock and celebrated its historic accomplishment.

"I have to give the boosters' credit to get it to this day," Grover said. "I'm excited
for the kids. They kept their heads up and came off a whupping we got
the week before. The biggest thing I said to them was that we lost to the team that was
probably going to be the state champions. We didn't quit last week. We
built on that. We beat a team that's pretty equal to us.

"The defense made some big plays. We couldn't stop their fullback. We
tried to adjust to him. My freshman made two nice interceptions.

"We knew if could get Beckles in the open field we could be successful.
The other guys produced too. All the backs had a great game."

In
addition to Beckles' strong showing, Moore had 46 yards on 10 carries.
Burgess rushed for 21 yards and a TD on eight tries. Freshman
quarterback James Purdy (who was rushed into action when sophomore
starter Jared Knighton suffered an ankle injury on the eve of the
contest) didn't have to throw a pass. He gained three yards on two carries.
Junior Ben Farley gained three yards on two rushes. Burke picked up five yards
on two attempts. Freeport gained 238 yards, was flagged just three
times for 15 yards and didn't turn the ball over, while forcing three
Sacopee miscues.

Corvin led the Hawks with a 169 yard, one-TD
performance on 26 rushes. Heath Cormier rushed for 49 yards on 10
attempts, but completed just 1-of-12 passes for 18 yards and a pair of
interceptions.

Home again

Freeport will play host
again this coming Saturday when Madison pays a visit. The Falcons,
while exuberant over their first victory, hope to get a win streak starting
next week. 

"It's our first step in the right direction," said Grover.
"Madison's a whole different team to face. I think it's a winnable game
for us if we bring our 'A' game. We can build off this. It gives us
confidence."

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net

 

Photo: Jason Veilleux
Freeport junior Matt MacMillan went low to bring down Sacopee quarterback Heath Cormier. The Falcons defense allowed just six points and forced three turnovers.

Photo: Jason Veilleux
Freeport senior Kyle Moore found himself in the middle of a group of Sacopee tacklers Saturday. Moore gained 46 yards on 10 carries in the win.