WOODBRIDGE—Persistence and unity worked for Freedom Friday night when things seemed bleak early against Colonial Forge. The visitors hope the same recipe works for them after a rare regular-season defeat.
“If we stick together, we can achieve every goal we have this season,” Colonial Forge coach John Brown said after his team squandered a 21–0 lead and lost 30–27 on a field goal at the final gun.
“We learned a lot from this game,” he said. “On Monday, we’ve got to look at the film and tell the truth. On Tuesday, we’ll move on. The scars won’t heal themselves, but we’ll learn from those scars.”
They’ll sting for a while.
Coming off a bye week, Colonial Forge (1–1) dominated early in a matchup of two of the state’s highest-rated teams. The visitors scored touchdowns on three of their first four possessions. Madden Lowe threw touchdown passes of 39 yards to Avery Johnson–Edmonds and 68 yards to Elijah Sarratt and also scored on a 10-yard run for a 21–0 lead 45 seconds into the second quarter.
At that point, Freedom (3–0) had just one first down—but the hosts weren’t despairing.
“I told the kids, ‘Those guys had a week off. They’re going to have some wrinkles that we weren’t expecting”—and they did,” said Freedom coach Darryl Overton, a former Colonial Forge assistant. “It just took us some time. I didn’t hit the panic button; my coaches didn’t hit the panic button. We stayed steady and weathered the storm.”
Two plays late in the first half turned the momentum. On the first, Freedom punter T.J. Mountain fielded a high snap and alertly turned potential disaster into a 30-yard gain. “That was huge,” Overton said. Five plays later, quarterback Chance Powell hit Jason Hawkins with a 21-yard touchdown pass.
And after the hosts forced a punt, Umari Hatcher slipped a tackle and turned a quick sideline hitch pass from Powell into a 64-yard touchdown, and a potential blowout was suddenly competitive.
“Those were two big plays,” Brown said. “If we keep those plays from happening, we would have been alright.”
Colonial Forge managed to stay in front through three quarters, thanks to another TD pass from Lowe to Johnson–Edmonds and Freedom’s recurring issues. But the visitors failed to get a first down on either of their two fourth-quarter possessions, and the hosts took over on the visitors’ side of the field with 1:15 remaining after partially blocking a punt.
A 24-yard pass from Powell to Hawkins put the ball on the Colonial Forge 3 and stopped the clock in the final seconds. Without a timeout at their disposal, the hosts rushed their field goal unit onto the field rather than spiking the ball. Markell Johnson kicked it through from 20 yards as time expired, setting off an on-field celebration.
“It was just raising our intensity,” said Powell, a Division I prospect who threw for 204 yards and three touchdowns. “We came out flat. Everyone was down, and we could have stayed down. But we played for each other.”
Lowe’s 236 yards and three scores couldn’t prevent Colonial Forge’s streak of 21 straight regular-season wins from ending. (Freedom also handed the Eagles their last pre-playoff setback, in 2016). They’ll try to rebound next Friday night at Hylton.
CF—Avery Johnson-Edmonds 39 pass from Madden Lowe (Phillip Lovelace kick).
CF—Elijah Sarratt 68 pass from Lowe (Lovelace kick).
CF—Lowe 10 run (Lovelace kick).
F—Jason Hawkins 7 pass from Quest Powell (Markell Johnson kick).
F–Umari Hatcher 64 pass from Powell (kick blocked).
F—J.T. Edwards 11 run (pass failed).
CF—Johnson-Edmonds 23 pass from Lowe (kick failed).
F—Hawkins 33 pass from Powell (Edwards run).
F—Johnson 20 field goal.
RUSHING: Colonial Forge—Jamal Thomas 14–59; Jaelan Black 4–43; Madden Lowe 8–17, 1 TD; Nico Lee 2–(minus 5). Freedom—J.T. Edwards 15–65, 1 TD; Quest Powell 15–59; T.J. Mountain 1–30; Jason Hawkins 2–0.
PASSING: Colonial Forge—Lowe 11–17–0, 234 yards, 3 TDs. Freedom—Powell 12–21–0, 204 yards, 3 TDs.
RECEIVING: Colonial Forge—Elijah Sarratt 5–145, 1 TD; Avery Johnson-Edmonds 3–73, 2 TDs; Cade Bills 1–9; Max Kauthen 1–4; Noel Innocent 1–3. Freedom—Jason Hawkins 6–97, 2 TDs; Umari Hatcher 2–76, 1 TD; Edwards 1–20; Jalen Hamlin 2–6; Nijehere Johnson 1–5.