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Fredonia falls to Trojans in Class C South contest, 31-12

OBSERVER Photo by Scott Kindberg The Fredonia defense brings down a Southwestern ball carrier Saturday night.

Nate Johnson walked to the bench on Saturday night in obvious discomfort after apparently being poked in the eye.

The good news for the Southwestern football team was that the temporary pain he was experiencing at Charles A. Lawson Field didn’t compare to the kind he was dishing out on it.

“This year he’s a big part of our program,” head coach Jake Burkholder said after the Trojans downed Fredonia, 31-12, in a long-awaited Section VI Class C South season opener. “He’s put in his time and he’s one of the guys we’re going to lean on.”

Johnson was more than up to the challenge.

Offensively, he caught two passes for 90 yards and two touchdowns, including a momentum changing 77-yard catch and run at the end of the first half; and, defensively, he made 11 tackles, intercepted a pass, forced a fumble and recovered another.

Fredonia’s Nick Whitfield hands the ball off to Matt Lotter during the Hillbillies’ game at Southwestern.

No wonder Burkholder calls Johnson the team’s utility man.

Junior Aidan Kennedy did a little bit of everything, too.

The 6-foot-2 quarterback completed 14 of 22 passes for 229 yards and three TDs — two to Johnson and one to Garrett Swan — ran for another, completing the evening with nine rushes for another 49 yards, and even booted a 60-yard punt.

Kennedy was especially impressive in the second quarter.

With his team trailing, 6-3 — Nick Whitfield’s 19-yard TD run on Fredonia’s first possession of the game and Southwestern’s Neves Hoose’s 25-yard field goal accounted for the points to that juncture — Kennedy capped a 74-yard drive with an 18-yard touchdown pass to a leaping Swan in the corner of the end zone. Hoose’s first of four successful point-after attempts was good to give the hosts the lead they never relinquished.

Then, after Johnson’s interception and 40-yard return three minutes later, Kennedy scored on a sneak, pushing Southwestern in front, 17-6.

To the Hillbillies’ credit, they didn’t stop playing, especially junior fullback/linebacker Matt Lotter. His 46 yards rushing on Fredonia’s ensuing drive put the Hillbillies’ at Southwestern’s 12-yard line in the final minutes before halftime. But a bad snap sailed over Whitfield’s head on first down, resulting in a 13-yard loss and Fredonia ultimately turned the ball over on downs.

That’s when Kennedy hooked up with Johnson on the play of the game.

From the Southwestern 23, Kennedy threw long to Johnson, who found himself behind the coverage and he took it the distance. The touchdown, which came with 26 seconds remaining before halftime, gave the Trojans all the momentum.

The Hillbillies weren’t able to recover, although they did do a much better job defensively after the break.

In the second half, Kennedy hit Johnson for another TD — this time from 13 yards out on Southwestern’s first possession of the third quarter –and Whitfield made a laser, 13-yard scoring strike to Dom Gullo for the Hillbillies’ final points with just under 10 minutes remaining in the game.

NOTES: Calvin Ricker had 12 tackles, Drew Wigren had 11 and Swan added six to lead the Trojans’ defense. … Zishan Munir rushed for 40 yards on 12 carries, and Swan had three receptions for 42 yards. … For Fredonia, Lotter ran for 111 punishing yards, and was credited with seven tackles and one forced fumble. … Jake Thompson picked off a pass and recovered a fumble for the Hillbillies.

Fredonia 6 0 0 6 — 12

Southwestern 3 21 7 0 — 31

Fred–Whitfield 19 run (kick fail)

SW–Hoose 25 FG

SW–Swan 18 pass from Kennedy (Hoose kick)

SW–Kennedy 1 run (Hoose kick)

SW–Johnson 77 pass from Kennedy (Hoose kick)

SW–Johnson 13 pass from Kennedy (Hoose kick)

Fred–Gullo 16 pass from Whitfield (pass fail)

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