Peter LaMagna opened the Falcons’ home game against Gray-New Gloucester Saturday with a quick rush TD to set the afternoon’s tone, lighting a fire under his teammates and immediately frustrating the Patriots. In the game’s remainder, he contributed two more scores, ultimately scoring 18 points for Freeport in a 32-14 victory.

“I’m very proud of the way the kids played,” said Freeport coach Rob Grover. “They overloaded our strong side, where our tight-end was, so we went back the other way, and the kids responded – made good blocks on the weak side.”

“This is our third week – fourth counting preseason,” said Gray-New Gloucester coach Mark Renna. “Second game; one exhibition game. (Today’s line is) a different line; we’re just moving people around right now, trying to figure out who can go where. Numbers-wise, we’re hurting for numbers. We only have 25 kids, and I only have eight lineman, so we’re trying to find that right combination.”

After a discouragingly huge loss, 59-14 at Spruce Mountain last week, the Falcons’ victory bumps them to 1-1 on the season. Gray-New Gloucester, though they took strides this week after falling 41-0 to Yarmouth in a non-seeding battle to begin the season, drop to 0-1 in the Crabtree standings.

LaMagna started the scoring just over a minute in, after a brief series that saw him return the opening kickoff to his own 46. Tyler Julien added a 5-yard run to get the ball across midfield, before LaMagna escaped the pack for a 48-yard TD dash.

Gray fumbled early in the follow-up drive, giving Freeport another quick chance to score. A pair of Patriots’ penalties – for pass interference and roughing the passer – moved Freeport to the Gray 14, and LaMagna took it from there, scooting forward for another touchdown, making it 12-0.

“Tough kid,” Grover said of LaMagna. “He just runs hard and loves the game. He cuts and jags, hitting and getting hit. He’s resilient.”

The Patriots offense stirred then, QB Carson Hodsdon connecting with wide receiver Zack Haskell for a 26-yard gain, but Gray wouldn’t find the end zone on this trip upfield, and turned the ball over on downs. Haskell continued asserting his presence, though, soon intercepting an Eli Fox pass attempt meant for Jake Perry.

“We weren’t hitting, the first half,” Renna said. “We came out, played a little bit, settled them down; Freeport’s a physical team. We weren’t physical. We got physical third and fourth quarter.”

Still, the Patriots couldn’t capitalize, and delivered the ball back to Freeport again on downs, giving Fox and Perry the chance to finally connect not once, but twice, the first a beautiful, one-handed pull-in by Perry for 24 yards, and the second a 20-yard TD pass to the end zone. 18-0.

Patriot Elijah Simmons logged a pair of midrange runs on his squad’s next series, but Perry and Sean Purdy combined to sack Hodsdon and force Gray to punt before they could make much progress. In fact, the Patriots’ first points came on a football fluke – a safety, which they earned when Brandon Ruminski brought down Fox in the end zone after Freeport took over around their own 1-yard-line.

The Falcons, on the other hand, continued to build their lead. LaMagna notched his hat trick midway through the third, a 4-yard running TD that Freeport capped with a successful two-point conversion, making it 26-2.

Late in the third, Gray scored its first touchdown of the season, a little Hodsdon keeper up the middle, making it 26-8. The moment obviously bolstered the Patriots’ spirits, as their second score of the year came in the last quarter, and in a much more spectacular fashion, when Hodsdon dropped a long pass into Haskell’s hands for 41 yards and six additional points.

The Patriots passing game – once the team warmed up – looked to be a strength; Grover knew that in advance, and actively sought to counter it. “We had two guys covering Haskell at all times, and (Kyle Keenan]) as well. Tight end was the spot where we gave it up a little bit. We were supposed to jam them, but we didn’t do that a few times.”

“That was the game plan,” Renna said of throwing the ball. “We have athletes out there. No time for the quarterback, unfortunately. We’ll work on that, though, and get better this week. It’s just more reps. Get back on the drawing board; more reps.”

Gray’s late-game efforts wouldn’t be enough. With four and a half minutes remaining, the Falcons, forced to punt, faked it instead; Brady Lafrance charged left with the ball, gaining 23 yards, for a first-and-10 at the Gray 23. Tyler Julien then completed the stunning turn, carrying for yet another Freeport TD, making it 32-14 on the next play.

Freeport travels to Poland on Friday the 19th for a 7 p.m. game. The Patriots face Leavitt next, a home bout also on the 19th at 7 p.m.

Grover looks to take his team’s momentum to the Knights, “but they’ve got momentum too,” he said. “We’ve just got to prepare for them. It’s triple option; you miss the pitch guy and he’s gone. We’ve gotta be disciplined this week and take care of it.”

“One step at a time,” Renna said of Gray-New Gloucester’s upcoming match, sure to be an uphill slog – Leavitt is perennially tough. “Next play, keep going, next play; we’re getting better each week. We took a couple steps today, a couple steps next week – it’s a building program.”

Patriots’ QB Carson Hodsdon lines up a pass in the pocket.The Patriots’ Tristan Herod tries to bring down Falcon Jake Perry, just after Perry one-handed a pass from QB Eli Fox.

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