By Rob Potter
LIBERTY September 25, 2001 It took an extra few minutes, but the Eldred Yellow Jackets picked up their first varsity football win in three years on Saturday afternoon.
A 31-yard field goal by junior kicker Devin Weyant in overtime proved to be the difference as Eldred earned a 15-12 non-league victory over host Liberty.
However, it took an interception by sophomore linebacker Vinny Reilly on Libertys overtime possession to clinch the win for Eldred. After Weyant, who is also a member of the Yellow Jacket varsity boys soccer team, calmly kicked the ball through the uprights, Liberty (03) had a chance to potentially tie the game with a field goal or score a touchdown to win it.
As Eldred (12) did on its overtime possession, Liberty had the ball at the 20-yard-line with four downs to either score or earn another set of downs by moving the ball inside the 10-yard-line. On first down, quarterback Andrew Riegler was sacked for a loss by the Eldred defense. Then on second down, Riegler threw over the middle for one of his receivers when Reilly stepped up and cradled the ball in his arms to seal the victory.
The kids were ready to play football today, they were up for this game, Eldred coach Frank Kean said. We wanted to win this game so badly.
Eldred almost won the game in regulation, but Libertys Dustin Pritzert blocked a 21-yard field goal attempt by Weyant with 11 seconds remaining.
Our defense at the end of regulation was good, said Liberty coach Michael Castelli, referring to the late Eldred drive that his defenders stopped short of the end zone. But you have to give Eldred credit, they played strong. And you have to give credit to everyone on the (winning) field goal, there was a lot of pressure on the kicker, holder and snapper and they did a good job.
Eldred took a 6-0 lead in a turnover-filled second quarter. With 10:37 left before halftime, Kyle Schneider scored on a four-yard run.
Schneiders run was set up when teammate Tom Phillips recovered a Liberty fumble at the Eldred 9 on the first play of the second quarter. Even though the Indians fumbled the ball three more times in the quarter and the Yellow Jackets coughed it up twice themselves, the miscues did not lead to any points as Eldred took its 6-0 lead into the locker room.
Liberty knotted the score at 6-6 when tailback Justin Yaun reached the end zone on an 11-yard-scamper with five minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Eldred answered on its next possession when Schneider scored on a nine-yard touchdown run. The key play in the 76-yard scoring drive was a fake punt. Faced with a fourth-and-two at their own 39, Kean and his coaching staff gambled. That risk paid off as Weyant, who also does the punting for the Yellow Jackets, took the snap from center and raced to the outside. By the time he was tackled downfield by a pair of Indian defenders, Eldred had a first-and-10 situation at the Liberty 37.
That was a big play, probably the turning point in the game, Kean said. Devin ran well and the blocking was there when we had to have it.
Liberty tied the game midway through the fourth quarter when Riegler found receiver Pedro Mercadeo in the end zone for a five-yard touchdown toss.
While Kean praised his entire team for the victory, he especially noted the performance and leadership of his squads four captains. Those team leaders are Anthony Mangiameli, John Martin, Phillips and John Tice.
Were having a down year, Castelli said. But there were a few positives today. Our sophomore quarterback Andrew Riegler made some nice throws and that touchdown was his first as a varsity QB. And the running backs and wide receivers did a decent job today.
Liberty will look to earn its first victory of the season on Saturday when the Indians visit Section IVs Delhi for a non-league contest. Eldred will host Tri-Valley at 1:30 p.m. Saturday in a Class D game.