STEELHAWKS WIN INTENSE NAIL-BITER OVER FREEDOM
Lehigh Valley Comes Out On Top Over Conference Rival
Bethlehem, PA: Fans certainly got their money’s worth in yet another gritty battle between Lehigh Valley and the Trenton Freedom. In a game that had spectators on the edge of their seats until the clock hit zero, the Steelhawks (3-0) came out victorious.
The intensity from the newfound rivals could be felt throughout the arena from the start of the game. Steelhawks kicker Michael Barnard opened the game with an Uno, followed by a Steelhawks interception deep in their own territory. However, the Steelhawks opening possession resulted in fumble lost in the endzone recovered by Freedom LB Jeffrey Morgan for a touchdown. On the ensuing possession, Barnard came through with a long Steelhawks field goal to bring the game to 7-4 Freedom. Moments later Freedom’s Jaquan Bryant returned the kickoff from deep in their own end zone for another Freedom touchdown increasing their lead to 14-4. The Steelhawks were quick to answer back as Adam Bednarik (12-23, 167 yds. 3 td, 1 int) connected with Scott Pillar (105 yds rec. 3 td) for a touchdown on the first play of the drive. Barnard added on the extra point and his second uno of the game to cut the Freedom’s lead to 2: 14-12 Freedom after one quarter of play.
Less than a minute into the second quarter. Freedom’s QB Warren Smith found Landis Williams in the end zone for a touchdown to increase their lead to 21-12. The Steelhawks were quick to answer once again as Bednarik connected with Pillar on a deep pass for a touchdown to bring the score to 21-19, followed by yet another Barnard uno shrinking the deficit to 1. The pace of the game slowed drastically after a series of penalties on the Steelhawks defense during a nearly 9-minute possession by the Freedom that resulted in a field goal. On the ensuing drive, Lehigh Valley picked the pace right back up as the Bednarik and Pillar duo struck again for a touchdown, followed by a successful two point conversion run by Pillar. The Steelhawks held a 28-24 lead at the halfway point of the game.
The Steelhawks offense picked up right where they left off to start the second half. A solid drive down the field ending in a short touchdown run by Bednarik gave them the largest lead of the game at 35-24. Freedom answered back with a touchdown of their own on their next possession with a pass from Smith to Jackson cutting the Steelhawks lead to five. The Freedom’s defense came up big as Jeffrey Morgan returned a deflected pass for a touchdown to give Trenton a one point lead and the momentum deep into the third quarter. Barnard came up wide on a field goal attempt on the next Steelhawks possession. The Freedom held a 36-35 lead after three quarters.
Consecutive holding penalties negated a Freedom touchdown and ultimately resulted in a turnover on downs to start off the final quarter. Barnard was able to hit his next field goal attempt to put the Steelhawks ahead 38-36 with just over 10 minutes left to play. DB Dwayne Hollis came up with an interception in the endzone on the first play of the Freedom’s next possession, but the Steelhawks offense could not convert it into points. After a strong defensive stand, Lehigh Valley was able to regain possession and add three more points to their lead after a Barnard field goal. An uno on the ensuing kickoff gave the Steelhawks a 42-36 lead with just over one minute remaining. The Freedom drove the ball down to the Steelhawks 2-yard line with six seconds remaining. An offsides call on the Freedom offensive line pushed them back to the 7-yard line. The Steelhawks defense came up with one last stop as time expired to solidify the victory. Final Score: Lehigh Valley 42, Trenton 36.
The win puts the Steelhawks at 3-0 and comfortably atop the National Conference Standings.
Tonight’s Offensive player of the game is awarded to Scott Pillar having a total of three touchdowns, a two-point conversion and 105 yards receiving. The Defensive award goes to Dwayne Hollis for his dominant defensive effort recording 4 tackles and a clutch interception. The overall Player of the Game goes to Kicker Michael Barnard who nailed three field goals and four uno’s.
Steelhawks next contest is at home, taking on the Harrisburg Stampede on Saturday, May 3rd. This family fun night is being brought to you by Highmark Blue Shield, and the first 500 fans will receive a free thermometer. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. inside Stabler Arena.
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