Cheney Free Press -

By PAUL DELANEY
Staff Reporter 

Medical Lake ends long drought with Freeman

Cardinals top Freeman 16-14; win for first time since 1996

 

October 4, 2018

Paul Delaney

Medical Lake's Carter Pivonka seals Card's win over Freeman with this interception in the final seconds.

Things certainly did not start well for Medical Lake in last Friday's Northeast A League home football game against Freeman.

But they definitely finished the right way for the Cardinals (1-1 NEA, 2-3 overall) who took an edge-of-the-seat 16-14 Northeast A League win over the Scotties (0-3, 0-5). The victory was the first for Medical Lake over Freeman in eight games, but more notable, it was 1996 when the Cards last won in the series.

That span includes 13 years when the school was playing in the 2A Frontier League.

"You gotta get some breaks sometimes in the game of football and then you have to go out and make some plays," Medical Lake head coach Jeremy Bahr said. "Both of those happened Friday night."

Breaks seemed to go both ways, but way too early for a Freeman team who has had its way with Medical Lake for more than two decades.

Freeman's opening kickoff angled towards the right sideline where deep-man Carter Pivonka watched the ball bounce and roll, but did not fall on it and the Scotties recovered on the ML 35. All kickoffs are live balls and must be covered, a mistake that Pivonka will never again forget.

But thanks to Mike Mikolajczyk, who sacked the Freeman QB on a third and 18 at the ML 33, setting up a fourth and 30, a Scotty punt ended that potentially disastrous opening series.

That gave Pivonka a chance - actually multiple opportunities - to help make up for the momentary lapse after the opening whistle, and did he ever deliver.

First Pivonka dashed 39 yards for a touchdown that - when tacked on to twin brother James' 32-yard field goal on the first play of the second quarter - gave his team a 10-0 lead with 8 minutes, 15 seconds to play in the first half.

But, arguably, Pivonka's biggest contributions came in the game's final 5:50.

It was there that Pivonka first dashed for a beyond-crucial fourth-down conversion that started deep in Medical Lake territory on the Cardinals' 31. Off of a fake punt, the senior then went 25 yards around the left and wide side of the field for a first down that kept the winning drive alive.

And finally, after Medical Lake quarterback Aiden Lyerla squeezed his way into the end zone for the deciding points with 48 seconds to play, erasing a 14-10 Freeman lead, Pivonka sealed the deal with his interception while playing free safety as time expired, zapping any field goal try to win.

Oh, and earlier, with 4:05 to play and after Freeman's Jace Phelan had just blocked a Medical Lake punt, it was Pivonka who, his coach said made, "Probably the game-saving play." His strip of the ball from the returner's hands knocked the ball into the end zone where it was recovered by Medical Lake for a touchback rather than what would have potentially given Freeman a third touchdown.

Freeman took advantage of a Medical Lake turnover and scored with seven seconds to play in the third quarter on Keoni Rogan's 17-yard run to make it a 10-7 game. And after the Cardinals failed to convert on a fourth down on the Scotties' 15 with 8:51 to play, Freeman took just four plays, one a huge loss on a fumbled snap before Will Campbell took a short Phelan pass 74 yards to lead 14-10 with 5:54 remaining.

Pivonka led all rushers with 129 of Medical Lake's 188 yards as a tea, plus 62 yards receiving on a pair of catches. For a second consecutive week, Lyerla was a very effective 8 for 9 passing for 93 yards and no interceptions. Campbell's 127 yards on five catches led all receivers.

"The fact that we were in a close game like that and then got down, late, and then have enough cohesiveness to all be on the same page for the drive there at the end, I was really proud of the kids," Bahr said.

Next up is league-leading and undefeated Newport (2-0, 4-0) who Medical Lake faces on the road Friday at 7 p.m.

Paul Delaney can be reached at pdelaney@cheneyfreepress.com.

 

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