The Chewelah Cougars (1-4, 0-2) faced off against the Freeman Scotties (5-0, 2-0) on Friday night in Chewelah in a key Northeast A League football game. The Cougars held their own for most of the first half, but two late touchdowns by league-leading Freeman in the first half opened up the game and the Scotties never looked back, cruising to a 41-12 victory on Senior Night for Chewelah.
For the second straight week, the big play was the nemesis of the Cougar defense--a touchdown pass of 56 yards and two other touchdowns set up by plays of 40-plus yards in the first half.
â€śThe kids played hard of defense,â€ť said head coach Jim Fisk. â€śThey rallied well and played good for the first half, but the big play hurt us. Weâ€™ll make some adjustments and take care of it.â€ť
Secondary gives up big plays to high-powered Freeman offense
The secondary giving up the long pass is the biggest issue for the inexperienced Cougar defense, but it is being addressed in practice by coach Fisk.
â€ś Iâ€™ve got to put kids in a better place to make plays and thatâ€™s a fixable thing for me,â€ť the coach said.
The defense kept Freeman running back Quinn Robinson in check, holding him to 86 yards on 21 carries. â€śOverall, I think two-thirds of our defense is playing well,â€ť added Fisk. â€śWe just need to make some improvements in the secondary.â€ť
The offense for Chewelah struggled to put points on the board, but moved the ball well between the 20-yard-lines. The Cougars gained 340 total yards, 170 running and 170 passing. Derek Smith gained a majority of that yardage for Chewelah, while Dylan Long caught both touchdown passes thrown by Smith.
â€śWe were O.K. on offense...we werenâ€™t hitting on all cylinders, but the guysâ€™ effort was good,â€ť Fisk said.
The Cougars' offensive line is still learning from week to week what it takes to play at a high level.
â€śThe O-line is playing hard, but they need to keep on their feet ...scramble better on their blocks, give those guys a gap (Smith, Calvin Connell and Ben Johnstone) and theyâ€™ll make a play for us,â€ť Fisk said of his team's line play.
The other area of concern for coach Fisk is getting Connell more involved in the offense.
â€śTeams are trying to take Calvin out of the mix and we need to do a better job of not allowing that to happen,â€ť he said.
It was Senior Night at Snyder Field and the seniors and their parents were honored by JHS in a pre-game ceremony. The Cougars took those good feelings into the first quarter. A 21- yard run by Smith on third and 20 keyed a 56-yard touchdown drive, capped by a four- yard touchdown pass from Smith to Long and a 6-0 lead.
The advantage was short-lived as Freeman went on a 2 minute, 63-yard touchdown drive, most of which was covered on a 50- yard run by Scotties' quarterback Cody Unfred. Freeman scored on a Robinson 3 yard run and took a 7-6 lead with four-minutes remaining in the first quarter.
The Cougars and Scotties defenses took over for much of the remainder of the half, holding each other scoreless until four-minutes were left in the second quarter. On second and five from their own 44-yard-line, Freeman hit on their second big play of the half. Justin Barrong got behind the Chewelah defense and Unfred hit him on a 56-yard touchdown pass and a 14-6 Scottie lead.
After a short Cougar punt, Freeman took over at the Chewelah 45 with 1:45 left in the half and immediately hit on their third big play of the half, a 40-yard completion to Derek Harter by Unfred that put the ball on the Cougar five. Robinson capped off the drive with a one-yard run and just like that the Scotties had a 21-6 lead going into halftime.
â€śA couple of big plays late and you go down two scores--that hurts in a lot of ways,â€ť said coach Fisk.
In the second half, Freeman took advantage of a short field, scoring on drives of 24 and 44 yards to build a 35-6 lead going into the fourth quarter. In the fourth quarter, the Cougars found the end zone again, Long, on a 15-yard touchdown pass by Smith,, finished off a 56- yard touchdown drive by the Cougars to cut the Chewelah deficit to 35-12.
Freeman recovered the onside kick at midfield and once again took advantage of the short field to score their final touchdown of the evening. This time, Kellen Miller caught a 13- yard Unfred TD pass to set the final score of 41-12.
The week the Cougars travel to Priest River, Idaho (0-5) to play the Spartans, and coach Fisk feels that the Cougars will make some noise in the final month of the season.
â€śWeâ€™re close,â€ť he said. â€śI am hungry for some wins and I know the boys are too.â€ť
Kickoff is at 7 p.m. at Priest River HS.
Freeman 7 14 14 6--41
Chewelah 6 0 0 6--12
Chw-Long 4 pass from Smith (run failed)
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Fre-Robinson 3 run (Harter kick)
Fre-Barrong 56 pass from UnÂ¬fred (Harter kick)
Fre-Robinson 1 run (Harter kick)
Fre-Robinson 10 run (Harter kick)
Fre-Robinson 21 pass from Unfred (Harter kick)
Chw-Long 13 pass from Smith (run failed)
Fre-Miller 15 pass from UnÂ¬fred (kick failed)