Diez’s late touchdown completes Freedom comeback
NAZARETH – Freedom’s running back Roberto Diez rushed for 171 yards on 32 carries. His third touchdown of the night, a one-yard touchdown dive with 1:47 remaining, put Freedom (2-0) up for good 31-27 in a back-and-forth battle Friday night at Andrew S. Leh Stadium against Nazareth (1-1).
“Our kids kept battling all night,” said Freedom head football coach Jason Roeder. “Diez is a tough kid that carried us tonight. He put the team on his shoulders tonight and got the job done.”
Both offenses started off slowly until the Patriots got their offense going on their second possession of the night.
Quarterback Joe Young hit Jonah Gundrum for a big third down play for 58-yard to the 23. Three plays later Diez went in from five yards out to put the Patriots up 7-0 with 2:59 left in the first quarter.
Nazareth answered the Freedom drive going 69-yards for their own score. The big play was quarterback Travis Stefanik’s 24-yard touchdown pass to Julian Liaci. The extra point was no good and Freedom led 7-6.
Before the first half ended, Freedom and Nazareth traded touchdowns as the Patriots went into halftime with an 21-12 lead over the Blue Eagles.
At the start of the second half, Freedom had the ball and momentum. But Jahan Dotson changed that quickly, intercepting a Young pass and setting up the Blue Eagles scoring drive.
A.J. Vlasaty capped off the drive with an 10-yard touchdown run cutting Freedoms lead to two, 21-19.
In the fourth quarter, Freedom extended their lead. Kicker John Eltringham nailed a 36-yard field goal.
With 5:52 remaining in the game, Nazareth went to their star sophomore to make a big play. Dotson did that. He took the pass and sprinted down the sideline for the 80-yard touchdown pass. The 2-point conversion was good and for the first time Nazareth led, 27-24.
Freedom’s Diez took the ensuing kickoff down to Nazareth’s 39 with 5:43 left in the game. The Patriots pounded the ball and Diez finished off the drive with a one-yard touchdown run.
Note: Freedom’s quarterback Joe Young passed for 101 yards on 8 of 17 passing and two interceptions.
The Patriots turned the ball over three times tonight and had several snaps over the quarterbacks head.
“It was very sloppy at times and that starts with me,” said Roeder. “We kept fighting and we knew that wasn’t our game and we know we are capable of better.”
“But give Nazareth credit. They forced us into mistakes and they were playing at a different pace in the first half than we were. They played a heck of game and Tom is doing a great job with that program.”
Nazareth’s quarterback Travis Stefanik completed 17 of 24 for 272 yards and two touchdowns and two interceptions. Jahan Dotson caught 6 passes for 167 yards and one touchdown.
“We went through rough times last year and I know this is a loss, but I am proud of these kids’ performance tonight,” said head football coach Tom Falzone. “I feel good here and the kids are growing up.”
Final 1st 2nd 3rd 4th T
Bethlehem Freedom 7 14 0 10 31
Nazareth Area 0 12 7 8 27
F – Roberto Diez 5-yard run 2:59
N – Julian Liaci 24-yard pass from Travis Stefanik 11:51
F – Roberto Diez 10-yard run 9:24
F – Andres Santos 1-yard run 3:48
N – A.J. Vlasaty 5-yard run 1:09
N – A.J. Vlasaty 10-yard run 8:25
F – 36-yard field goal John Eltringham
N – Jahan Dotson 80-yard pass from Travis Stefanik 5:52
F – Roberto Diez 1-yard run 1:47
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