The Bucs returned home last Friday night to better weather, a larger crowd of fans and a much better opponent. Freeport has been overwhelmed in their season opener by Boylan, but they came to Belvidere to play.
The Bucs drew first blood in their opening drive. Steve Golubski kept the ball on the ground with a series of hand-offs and kept the ball himself to get past midfield for 26 yard gain. The Pretzels defense held tough, forcing the Bucs to try a fourth down and two. Golubski faked a hand-off that fooled everyone and allowed Nate Byers to find a hole and run twenty yards to the end zone for the first score of the night. The kick for the extra point was no good, but the Bucs were up 6 – 0. Freeport wasn’t about to lie down. Wes Gastel took the kickoff 30 yards back up field to start the Pretzels on the Bucs’ 42 yard line. Belvidere’s defense dogged him, but Gastel managed to hold onto a 14 yard pass as he was hit to keep the Freeport drive alive. Two plays later, Gastel was in the end zone after a 27 yard run. The extra point was good and Freeport had the lead. Belvidere’s next drive stalled deep in Pretzels territory. The Bucs turned the ball over on downs. However, the defense stepped up and was in the right place at the right time. A bad snap forced a fumble and the Bucs recovered. Two plays and 24 yards later, Belvidere was in the end zone again. A two point conversion failed, but the Bucs had a 12 – 7 lead.
The Bucs were on a roll and the beginning of the second quarter found them on the 11 yard line. Steve Golubski connected with Nate Byers in the end zone for their third touchdown. Another two point conversion failed. With a little less than six minutes left in the half, Freeport recovered a Belvidere fumble on the Pretzels’ 42. Freeport only needed one play; connecting with Wes Gastel who ran it in for a touchdown. The kick after was good and the Bucs’ lead was cut to four. However, Carvious McCarthy decided to do some exploding of his own. Picking up the kick-off, he ran it back 79 yards for a Belvidere touchdown. The point after woes continued for Belvidere, but the Bucs were able to go into the locker room at halftime with a 24 – 14 lead.
Freeport was down, but nowhere near out. Wes Gastel took another pass 67 yards in the opening seconds of the third quarter to cut the Bucs’ lead down to three. On their next possession, Belvidere ran into some trouble moving downfield. Two penalties on Freeport allowed them to keep the drive going, including a key encroachment flag on a fourth and one situation. Unfortunately, the penalties hit both sides of the field. A holding call on the Bucs brought them back to the Freeport 30 yard line. A sack of Steve Golubski took them back even farther and they were unable to complete a pass. Freeport took over on downs and almost immediately was back in Bucs’ territory. On second down on the Bucs 42 yard line, Chris Collier reached the quarterback for a sack. The ball popped into the air and Josh Fowler came up with the ball. That switched the momentum of the game immediately and Belvidere was back in control. A four play, 51 yard drive ended in a touchdown. The kick for the extra point was blocked, but the Bucs had a 30 – 21 lead and while Freeport would not score again, it was late in the fourth quarter before Coach Hearn could make a decision to let the second string come into the game.
The Bucs travel to Swanson Stadium to play Rockford East tonight. The E-Rabs are 0 – 2 this season. In both games, East was unable to generate much offense, gaining only nine yards total in their loss to Harlem and being in the negative for most of the game against Waukegan. However, the Bucs will take the E-Rabs seriously. Last year the E-Rabs scored 21 points in their game against Belvidere, their highest offensive output all season. The Bucs look to stop Robert Spence, the E-Rabs leading rusher, and receiver Tony Brooks. The game begins at 7:15.