Freeport hopes to hold on for win over Graceville

Freeport’s Owen Cole tries to pull away from a Walton Brave during Friday’s home game. Cole was the leading rusher for Freeport with 82 yards and a touchdown. Freeport lost 42-21.

After a 42-21 loss to Walton County High, the Freeport Bulldogs are looking to bounce back this week when they play host to the Graceville Tigers. The Tigers under first year coach Mike Beach are 2-1 and are coming off a 28-26 win over Sneads. “They are primarily a running team and they’ve got a lot of speed,” said Freeport Coach Jim Anderson. “That new head coach … he’s got them going.” But in order for the Bulldogs, 1-3, to put a mark in the win column, Coach Anderson said, “We’ve got to hold on to the football and keep them out of the big play.” Holding on to the football proved to be an issue for the Bulldogs this past Friday. Back-to-back fumbles midway through the fourth quarter cost the Bulldogs in their game with Walton. "We gave it all we had," Anderson said as he walked off the field Friday night. "We just ran out of gas. And we could have played better." With the game tied 21-21 at the end of the third quarter, Walton broke the deadlock at the start of the fourth on a 55-yard strike from Chris Kelley to Amos Williams. Andrew Shipman kicked in the point after for a 28-21 lead. On Freeport's next possession, the ball was knocked loose and Walton came up with it on the 22-yard line. Three plays later, the Braves were in the end zone on a 3-yard run up the middle by Markell Carswell. Shipman's extra point attempt hit the upright for a 34-21 game. Freeport again had a chance at the ball and fumbled it away with Walton's T.C. Chestnut making the recovery. This time Walton scored in two plays on a 10-yard run around the right end by Williams. Williams, who finished the night with 129 yards in 11 carries, also took it in on the 2-point conversion for a 42-21 game. Freeport had the ball two more times but couldn't get anything going. Earlier in the evening, Freeport struck first on an 11-yard pass play from Gabe Moore to Morgan Hardee for the score. The conversion attempt failed. Walton came out and drove the ball 60-yards with Diontre Pate capping off the nine-play drive with a 3-yard run up the middle for the TD. Shipman was good for the PAT and a 7-6 lead. In the second quarter, Freeport answered with an 80-yard drive. Owen Cole carried the ball three times in the series for a total gain of 12 yards. However, the Bulldogs struck pay dirt on a 55-yard strike from Moore to Hardee for the score. Moore went to Nick Russell in the right corner of the end zone for the 2-point play and a 14-7 lead. With just under 4 minutes to go in the second quarter, Walton scored on a 4-yard run up the middle by Williams and Shipman kicked in the PAT for a tie game. Freeport got the ball with 1:42 left in the half and put it in the end zone on an 8-yard run by Cole. Cole finished the night with 82 yards in 12 carries and Freeport led 21-14 at the break. Walton evened the score on their first possession of the third period. Following a 41-yard dash by Williams, Daiquan Brown scored on a 3-yard run and Shipman kicked in the PAT. For the game, Freeport had 141 yards rushing, while the Braves rolled up 342. Top dogs were Cole with 82 yards and a TD and Chase Caswell with 40 yards. The Braves were led by Williams with 129 yards and two touchdowns, and Pate with 75 yards and a TD. Through the air, Freeport's Moore completed 7-of-22 for 144 yards and two touchdowns. Walton's Chris Kelley was 5-of-8 for 91 yards and a TD.