On a day when Freehold’s offense never found a groove, the defense gave up a 10-point halftime lead and trailed with time winding down in the fourth quarter, Josh Dixon saved the day.
With Wall having moved inside Colonials territory, Dixon intercepted a Jack Gifford pass over the middle on fourth-and-10 from the 44, his second of the day, with 1:03 to play to secure a 17-14 Shore Conference Class B North win at the Cal D. Wilson Athletic Complex on Saturday afternoon.
“It was just real crucial that somebody made a play at that point,” Dixon said. “We fought through this game and thankfully, we were able to come out with the win.”
Dixon also picked off Gifford midway through the second quarter before making a host of Crimson Knights (1-2, 1-1) miss on his way to the end zone and a 64-yard interception return for a touchdown. Daniel Parr’s extra point made the score 7-0.
“Josh had a great week of practice, everyday on offense and defense he was flying around and focused,” Freehold head coach Dave Ellis said. “I kind of knew he was due for a good day.”
Dixon’s pick six was a welcomed development as Freehold’s offense had a tough time getting going. The Colonials (1-2, 1-1) punted five times in the first and gained just 69 total yards before halftime.
Of those 69 yards, 35 of them came on the final drive of the half, which was capped by a 27-yard field goal from Parr at the second quarter horn for a 10-0 lead.
Wall was no better offensively in the first half, gaining just 49 total yards. That all changed in the second half as the combination of Gifford and junior running back Pete Miceli on the ground led a 9-play, 69-yard scoring drive to open the second half.
After an 11-yard run by Miceli set up Wall with first-and-goal from the 2, 6-foot-1, 210-pound senior fullback John Louro plowed into the end zone for a score as the Phil Shields extra point cut the Crimson Knights’ deficit to 10-7.
Wall’s defense followed the score by forcing a Freehold three-and-out before the offense went on another scoring drive, this one a 9-play, 63-yard drive that ended with Louro going on runs of 8, 4, 13 and 10. The 10-yard run and another Shields kick gave Wall its first lead at 14-10 after three quarters.
The teams traded stalled drives before Freehold, unable to muster much offensively all day, finally put a drive together when it had to have one.
On the eighth play of a 60-yard drive, junior quarterback Bradley Jones threw a fade to the back right corner of the end zone that dropped right into the arms of Rayshon Webber with just under four minutes to go to cap the scoring.
The Webber touchdown was sweet redemption after he dropped a pass over the middle on the final play of the third quarter that surely would have gone for a touchdown and given Freehold a 17-14 lead at the time.
“I told Rayshon we were gonna go back to him and he would have a chance to redeem himself and he did,” Ellis said. “He did a nice job when we really needed a play made.”