ALLEGANY - Fredonia (2-0) bounced back from a terrible start to overtake Allegany-Limestone in the second half and hang on for a thrilling 13-12 win, Friday in non-league high school football.
John Piper sealed the win by intercepting a pass with under a minute to play in the fourth quarter.
The Gators (1-1) opened the scoring with a 6-yard touchdown pass from Kyle Stover to Nate Flick. The Fredonia defense stuffed the two-point conversion to hold the lead at 6-0.
Meanwhile, the Hillbillies' offensive unit struggled to get any rhythm going against the stingy Allegany-Limestone defense.
"We had some assignment breakdowns," Fredonia head coach Bob Ball said. "We also had a lot of penalties in the first half that made it hard to sustain drives. That was our demise in the first half."
The second quarter was more of the same as Stover added to the scoring with a 1-yard touchdown plunge to push the advantage to 12-0 at halftime.
In a classic tale of two halves, Fredonia came out of the locker room a different team.
"Basically we righted the ship and the guys played a good half of football," Ball added.
Zach Buckley was a star on offense and defense for the Hillbillies.
The senior running back picked up 160 yards on 25 carries, including an 11-yard touchdown in the third quarter that got Fredonia on the board.
Trent Thompson added the extra point to cut the lead to 12-7.
Buckley also recorded a sack from his linebacker position in a stellar two-way performance.
"He played a lot of defense for us," Ball said of Buckley. "He bailed us out when we were blowing assignments. He did what a team captain is supposed to do."
As the Fredonia offense got into a groove, Weston Ley recorded the first of the team's two big interceptions on the day.
On a fourth-and-8 and the Gators threatening to score, Ley stepped in front of a pass in the end zone to give the Hillbillies possession.
Then with just about 5:30 left in the fourth quarter, Ley broke free for a 12-yard touchdown run to give Fredonia its first lead of the game.
While Buckley and Ley were the ones to actually carry the ball across the goal line, Ball knows it was the big guys up front that paved the way.
"Our offensive line really came around in the second half," he commented. "We pretty much ran the ball the whole second half and a lot of credit goes to them. Nick Nocek, Chris Saden, Tory Grupa, Brett Seekings and Zack Oderbralski really did a good job for us."
Nocek and Saden each played well on the defensive line, too. Both players recorded 14 tackles and a sack.
Allegany-Limestone had one last drive to try and escape with a win, but Piper played hero by picking off Stover with under a minute to play.
"They knew at that point the game was over," Ball said of his players. "Allegany was out of timeouts and we got the ball back. I was pleased to come away with a win. I think our kids learned a lot tonight about what it's going to take to win."
Fredonia travels to take on Wilson next Friday.