Freedom Loss Last Minute Heart-breaker to Georgia Fire
TRENTON – Overtime or the win, for the Georgia Fire 34 yards separated the extra play and the fourth win of the season for the visitors. Lindsey Wolfe completed a strong game with the perfectly placed boot as the Fire handed the Trenton Freedom their first loss 52-49 at the Sun National Bank Center Saturday night.
“We were in it until the field goal went through and won the game,” Trenton Freedom Coach Kevin O’Hanlon said.
O’Hanlon watched as his Freedom (8-3) stormed back from 15 points down and knotted the game at 49 on a Roger “Spider” Jackson two-point conversion with slightly over four minutes left in the game.
Initially, the Freedom defense stopped the Fire (4-7) on the ensuing drive, but a fourth down pass interference on Domenic Joseph extended the drive.
“Our offense carried us all year, our defense did a great job,” O’Hanlon said referring to his defense keeping the Freedom in the game after a slow start. “Field goals are half stops, four stops in a game and you should win it, in the second quarter we were getting off the field. It just didn’t work out.”
This week, the Freedom fell behind 14-0 a fumble and a failed fourth down (missed pass interference call) ended their first two drives. Spider Jackson (8 catches, 157 yards, 3 tds) put the Freedom on the board with an electric 40-yard catch and run on a pass from Warren Smith.
““I feel like I can always get extra yards,” Jackson said after the game. “ I think in the last couple of games I’ve gotten more comfortable as far as knowing what is going on and Warren seeing me and I try to make the best of things.”
Playing without two receivers (Antoine Rivera and Landis Williams) the receiving corps of Jackson, Vaughn Carraway, and Maurice McDonald each stepped their game up.
“We have more than enough wide receivers, Vaughn came in off the bench and played great,” O’Hanlon said. “We are a deep team and all of them are prepared, it’s not a question of preparation, it’s just hard to take games like this, it’s just tough.”
Jackson noted the effort and toughness Carraway (4 catches, 41 yards, and a touchdown) showed as well.
“Of course you feel a lot of pressure that’s a lot of guys making plays, that’s a lot of weight, a lot of slack you have to pick up,” Jackson said. “I knew it was time to step up for all of us me, Mo and Carraway who did an excellent job, he caught a touchdown and made plays without practicing at receiver.”
Although they only registered one sack, the Freedom kept pressure on Fire quarterback Cecil Lester. The nifty signal caller used his awkward style to his advantage in completing 17 of 36 pass for 233 yards and four scores.
“His mechanics, its part side arm, and off his back foot,” O’Hanlon said after the game. “We didn’t do a good job getting our hands up. Our defensive backs were in position on the long balls they just didn’t get their head around.”
Two of those long passes went to John Harris (4 catches, 3 touchdowns) for big scores. On each play, the defensive back was in perfect position but didn’t locate the ball until it whizzed by his ear hole and into the receivers arms.
After venting for a while, O’Hanlon quipped,
“In a way it’s a good thing I guess, getting it off our shoulders before we go into the playoffs. We just can’t, we just can’t play down to these guys like this, we have to finish teams like this and it is my fault. We have to find ways to win games like this.”
With the loss, the National Conference Champion Freedom still have a chance of hosting the Professional Indoor Football League (PIFL) Championship if they win out starting Saturday on the road against the American Conference Champion Nashville Venom (9-2).
The next time the Freedom play at the Sun National Bank Center it will be the opening round of the PIFL playoffs July 5 against a team to be determined as the season plays out.
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