Bobcats roll over Eagles 31-6, leaving Battlefield, Patriot as last undefeated teams
It's not often the first offensive play of a half results in a touchdown in varsity football.
It's even less so for it to happen at the start of both halves in the same game.
Battlefield senior quarterback Matt Gallagher connected with deep threat Zac Kerxton only twice on Friday night in Haymarket but made both strikes count as he led the Bobcats to a 31-6 victory over visiting Freedom.
It allowed the Bobcats to keep pace with Conference 8 rival Patriot as the last two undefeated teams in the county, following the Pioneers' 49-28 road victory over Woodbridge on the same night.
Gallagher's first bomb came right after the opening kickoff, a 64-yard strike to his wide receiver classmate Kerxton.
The Bobcats then marched down field during their next possession on a series of rushing plays that set up a one-yard sneak by Gallagher to put Battlefield up 14-0.
"I think our coaches did a good job preparing us," said Gallagher, explaining how the team used its film study to its advantage.
Once the third quarter came around, the Eagles showed they had a first-and-long play of their own.
On the first play from scrimmage, running back Josh Anderson converted a trick play on a pitch as he aired the ball out to wide receiver Quinten Wallace along the Bobcats' sidelines for an 80-yard touchdown.
While it appeared Freedom may have finally picked up some momentum after trailing 17-0 at halftime, turnovers plagued the team.
So did the Battlefield student section chanting "Block! That! Kick!" after the touchdown as the special team defense did just that on the extra point attempt, bringing cheers from the stands.
Battlefield also coughed the ball up four times between its second score of the first quarter and it's next one in the closing two minutes of the second quarter on a 25-yard field goal by junior kicker Brendan Feehan.
Although he only contributed seven points offensively, Feehan launched the ball into the end zone on kickoffs all six times and also pinned Freedom inside its own five-yard-line after a punt in the second half.
Part of Battlefield's 108-38 scoring differential through the first three games is attributed to starting field position, according to Battlefield head coach Mark Cox.
"Our defense is our kicker," said Cox, who founded the Bobcats' football program after the school opened in 2004.
Battlefield's turnovers represented missed opportunities for the Eagles' offense, which allowed four interceptions of its own, including three in the second half.
It could have been four if not for Colin Parker intentionally allowing an overthrown pass on fourth down to pass through his hands and hit the ground near the goal line late in the fourth quarter, setting up Battlefield with better field
position near midfield.
The Bobcats didn't let that go to waste either when running back Corey Parker refused to accept Freedom's tackling attempts, spinning out twice and bursting down the Battlefield line for a 39-yard score.
Battlefield's other second-half second came in the final two minutes of the third quarter.
Gallagher set up the play by hitting Kerxton for his second catch with a 43-yard delivery along the Eagles' sideline that put the Bobcats at first-and-goal on the 4-yard-line.
Running back Brenden Boney then made quick work of the short field with a touchdown run through the right side of the offensive line, standing up as he crossed the plane.
All that came a year after Freedom stunned Battlefield in Week 3 with a 21-10 victory in Woodbridge.
"It's really not that much of a difference" between this year and last year, said Freedom quarterback John White. "It's just mental mess-ups."
Freedom head coach Gary Wortham did note there is something different about his senior-heavy team, which entered the game as the last undefeated group in eastern Prince William.
"Their attitudes are completely different than (they were) last year," he said.
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