Against the Freedom Bulldogs Friday night at Heiling Stadium the Ellwood City Wolverines showed flashes of brilliance but there were other times when that was simply not the case. That kind of play was not enough as the Wolverines lost to the Bulldogs 28-27 behind a 100-yard effort by Freedom tailback Kahlil Caracter
Ellwood City head coach Don Phillips was willing to Freedom some credit, offering “they capitalized on all of our mistakes tonight.”
The start of the game was delayed 50 minutes due to a thunderstorm that hit just before kickoff. Both teams struggled out of the gate and it was a scoreless game after one quarter. Things got more interesting in the second quarter as the Bulldogs started the quarter driving into Wolverine territory. However, on fourth-and-7 at the Ellwood 37, Freedom elected to punt. The decision proved costly as immediately after the punt Wolverine senior running back Beau Ewing took a direct snap and ran 80 yards for a touchdown. The PAT was good and Ellwood took a 7-0 lead.
The Bulldogs responded quickly. Junior running back Kahlil Caracter had a 51-yard run that set Freedom up at the Ellwood three-yard line. Two plays later senior quarterback Forret Petcovic ran the ball into the end zone from two yards away. In what became a theme, the extra point was missed but the Bulldogs were right back in the game at 7-6.
Then the game started to get a little sloppy with an exchange of interceptions by each team. After a 65 yard run by junior running back Jared Meyers, Ellwood seemed poised to score again. Unfortunately, it was interrupted when Meyers was intercepted by senior linebacker Adam Shawger. The momentum did not last long for Freedom as five plays later Petcovic was intercepted by junior defensive end Anthony Tanner.
The sloppiness ensued as two plays following that turnover Meyers could not hold on to a high snap and the Bulldogs recovered. This time Freedom took advantage as Caracter found the end zone again with a two-yard touchdown run. The two-point conversion was also successful and the Bulldogs were now ahead 14-7. The Wolverines threatened to score again but Petcovic intercepted a pass from junior quarterback Justin Vetica. The half ended with Freedom ahead 14-7.
Ellwood came out swinging to start the third quarter. Meyers had a big 15-yard run and then caught a 13-yard pass from Vetica. The Wolverines also gained 15 more yards on the pass because of a facemask on the Bulldogs. Two plays later junior running back Seth Mley scored on an 11-yard touchdown run. The extra point bounced off the posts and was unsuccessful. Ellwood was now down only one at 14-13.
Near the end of the third quarter Freedom mounted another drive. This time Petcovic did most of the damage. His 36-yard run put the Bulldogs deep into Wolverine territory. Two plays later Petcovic found an open target in the form of junior wide receiver Jared Hogue for a 16-yard touchdown completion. The PAT was also good and Freedom went ahead 21-13.
Early in the final quarter the Wolverines struck as Vetica had a huge 42-yard pass to Mley and then took it in himself from one yard out. Meyers converted the two-point play and the game was now tied. After a sack from Ewing, Ellwood seemed to have the momentum. However, on the next play Petcovic hit Caracter for a little screen pass. Caracter then made the first guy miss and flew down the field for a 75-yard touchdown. The successful extra point gave Freedom a 28-21 lead. The teams then traded punts.
Late in the quarter the Wolverines made their move. Led by a steady diet of Meyers from the wildcat position Ellwood moved down the field. On one of many key plays, Vetica hit Meyers for a 13-yard completion down to the Freedom one-yard line. Ewing then pounded the ball in from there. On the extra point Vetica could not get a handle on the snap and the point failed keeping the Wolverines now the lone point.
With 2:33 to go Ellwood got a gift when they recovered a Caracter fumble. The Wolverines then got a holding call on the Bulldogs to bring the ball to the Freedom 33 but that is all the further they would get. The comeback fell just short as the Bulldogs defeated Ellwood 28-27.
Meyers led all rushers with 135 yards on 15 carries. Mley also contributed 96 all-purpose yards for the Wolverines. Caracter paced Freedom with 106 yards on 18 carries.
Ellwood committed four turnovers and Freedom had three.
Following the game coach Phillips told his team that they are capable of playing better.
“I told them that we have to play all four quarters with more consistency, said Phillips.
Next Friday Ellwood will to travel to Beaver Falls for a 7:30 contest against the Tigers at Reeves Stadium. The Wolverines go into the game with a 0-2 record and Beaver Falls is 2-0.