Raiders’ defense dominates, blanks Freeport 35-0
By Wayne E. Rivet
FRYEBURG — As his teammates celebrated a 35-0 over Freeport, Cody Gullikson was interested in just one stat.
He didn’t wonder how many rushing yards he had.
A very workmanlike afternoon, 20 carries for 117 yards and a touchdown.
Instead, the question was “How many yards did they get?” the Fryeburg Academy junior asked.
The Raider defense dominated the Falcons, limiting them to just 36 total yards and one first down — that coming on a questionable pass interference call down the sideline midway through the third quarter.
“Defensively, we shut them down. We had the ball most of the time. I don’t think we punted. We just couldn’t put it in the end zone,” FA Coach David Turner said. “We always say if we can make them drive the field, the more opportunity there is to make a mistake. That’s what actually happened to us. We kept making one mistake here and there. Luckily, our defense came to play.”
Junior Jared Chisari posted another big game, rushing for 135 yards on 18 carries including touchdown runs of 4 and 26 yards. With the Raiders reaching pay dirt five times in the matinee Friday contest (the game was moved from Saturday to Friday due to SAT tests), kicker Jeremiah Schrader was kept quite busy — and the former soccer player didn’t disappoint, knocking through all five point-after attempts.
Fryeburg moved the well on their first drive as quarterback Oscar Saunders delivered a strike to receiver Cobey Johnson for 11 yards on third down. FA picked up 15 more yards on the play when the Falcons were whistled for an illegal helmet-to-helmet hit.
Chisari kept the drive alive with a four-yard gain on fourth down. Saunders later zipped a pass on a slant to Scott Parker, who gained 11 yards. Again, Freeport was slapped with a penalty — facemask — on the play, giving away another 15 yards. At the FRE-6, Chisari moved the ball to the 1 on a gain of five yards. But, Freeport held as the Raiders bobbled the snap and senior defensive end Connor Dostie recovered.
“Freeport was 2-2 for a reason. They played us tough. I give credit to them. We made a lot of mistakes, but they made plays in the first half and stopped us. We were fortunate to score at the end (of the half). We were our own worst enemy in the first half,” Coach Turner said. “I don’t know if it had to do anything with our big win (over Yarmouth the previous week), but we certainly play very sharp football in the first half. That’s for sure.”
The Raider defense kept the Falcons pinned as Gullikson dropped Dostie for no gain on a third down play, forcing a punt.
Fryeburg recovered from a holding penalty to take a 7-0 lead just 40 seconds into the second quarter as Chisari scored from 23 yards out on a sweep to the right. Big plays on the seven-play, 56-yard drive was a 12-yard Saunders scramble and 20 yards on three rushes by Gullikson.
Alert play by Gullikson on a fake Freeport punt gave the Raiders great field position at the Falcon 26 with 9:10 left in the half. But, the drive stalled due to two penalties and two incomplete passes at the FRE-14.
Again, the Raider defense was up to the task. Stops by Ryan Hewes and Johnson forced a 3-and-out. At the Freeport 44, the Raiders used up most of the final 3:16 to score as Saunders fired over the middle to Johnson on third down from 16 yards out with 18.3 seconds left for a touchdown. Johnson took two big shots at the goal line, but kept his balance and hung onto the ball for the score.
Scott Parker flashes his good hands as a primary target in the Raider passing game, but he made the catch of the game when he leaped high and intercepted a Josh Burke toss at the FA-41 to start the second half.
“Parker’s catch was a great play. Our corners and safeties did a great job getting over the top of their receivers, and that’s not easy to do,” Coach Turner said. “When you give up 36 yards, it allowed us to be sub par offensively in the first half.”
The coach added, “Our defensive backs have been doing a nice job all year. We’ve covered pretty well. They (Freeport) like to throw it up there. So, we were concerned about that, but our defensive backs did a nice job. When you add that our guys up front put pressure on the quarterback, that tends to make things a little easier.”
Neither team scored in the third quarter, but another defensive highlight was a strong bull rush by Raider senior Isaac Wakefield, who delivered a big hit on the Freeport signal caller as he tried to fling a pass down the sideline.
Fryeburg made it 21-0 as Chisari finished off a 53-yard, nine play drive with a four-yard plunge behind blocks from Joe LeBrun, Kevin Ventura and Tucker Buzzell. Chisari broke free for 21 yards on a sweep to the right as the third quarter ended. FA had aggressive play upfront all day.
The Raiders made it 28-0 on their next possession as Chisari rumbled 19 yards on a quick burst to the left. The next play, Parker delivered a great seal block on the outside to clear the way for Chisari, who turned on the burners for a 26-yard TD run with 7:20 left in the game.
After a Freeport fumble, recovered by Caleb Eklund, the Raiders went back to work at the FRE-24. After Chisari went left and then cut back to the right for 15 yards, Gullikson finished off the drive with runs of 5 and 4 yards.
“Our offensive line is coming along. We are still a work in progress. It certainly wasn’t their best half of football. It seemed there was a mistake here and there on every play. We were so close on plays, but had a penalty. We had a bunch of motion penalties and I don’t know why. We haven’t had them all year,” Coach Turner said. “We controlled both lines of scrimmage, but we kept making mistakes at critical times, which held us back.”