North Vermilion teammates surround Benny Freeman (11), who scored three touchdowns and ran for 134 yards against Crowley.
NV's Collin Arnould (5) looks for a hole to run through.
North Vermilion hangs on to beat Crowley
KAPLAN - The North Vermilion Patriots beat the Crowley Gents 35-20 in front of a homecoming crowd, and one would think Patriot head coach Brett Blakey would be happy.
Blakey was far from being happy.
In the first half, the Patriots manhandled the Gents and led 28-7 behind 220 rushing yards.
But then the second half started, and things went south for the Patriots’ offense.
North Vermilion ran only 13 plays and gained only one first down in the entire second half. That first down came with two minutes to play in the game.
Crowley got within eight points, 28-20, of North Vermilion with 2:30 left in the game.
North Vermilion got the ball at midfield and only had to get a first down to run out the clock and secure the win. Instead, the Patriots’ offense went backwards and was facing third down and 17 on the Patriots’ 45-yard-line.
Things looked bleak.
But then tailback Benny Freeman, who touched the football nine times in the first half, only touched the football once in the second half. But that one time was the biggest play of the game.
Freeman darted left and rounded the corner, and outran the Crowley defense for a 55-yard touchdown run with 1:58 to play in the game.
His run secured the victory.
It also meant Blakey could breathe a little easier.
Dominating the first half hurt the Patriots in the second half, said their head coach.
“We got complacent,” said Blakey. “We scored 28 points in the first half, and we were OK with it. We took our foot off the gas pedal. A team as talented as Crowley is, if you allow them to get back into the game, they will do exactly that.”
Freeman’s TD-run was North Vermilion’s only positive play in the second half, said Blakey.
When the Gents got back into the game, Blakey began pacing the sideline. He admits he became nervous.
The Patriots finished the game with a season-high 289 yards rushing. That is good news.
The bad news is that the Patriots only rushed for 69 yards in the second half. Take away the 55-yard touchdown run by Freeman, and the Patriots only rushed for 14 yards and threw for three yards for a total of 17 yards.
“Give Crowley credit. They made second-half adjustments, and we did not,” the NV coach said.
In the first half, four Patriots rushed for positive yards.
Freeman had 79 yards on 11 carries, and he scored three touchdowns in the first half. Freeman had touchdown runs of 24 yards, 18 yards and 55 yards.
NV quarterback Dale Martin had six carries for 61 yards. He had a 16-yard TD run in the second period. In the second half, Martin ran once for three yards.
Collin Arnould finished with 12 carries for 53 yards and a 4-yard touchdown run for NV.