TAMPA – On a night when Wharton (2-2, 1-1) retired Vernon Hargreaves’ #24 jersey, the Wildcats’ defense contained the Freedom Patriots (2-2, 0-1), winning 19-7.
Wharton opened the scoring in the second quarter with a 45-yard field goal by Mahdi Fawaz which was set up by a miscue from the Freedom punt team. Late in second quarter, Freedom got their own special team’s break when Carlos Rodicio recovered a fumble in the end zone on a Wharton punt attempt to make the score 7-3. On the next possession, a Wharton punt hit a Freedom player and was recovered in Patriots territory but Trent Burnett intercepted a pass to end the first half.
On the Wildcats’ second possession of the third quarter, running back Shannon King had a 35-yard run and later capped the drive with an 8-yard touchdown run to pull Wharton ahead to stay, 9-7. Wharton’s defense then turned up the pressure on the next two Freedom possessions. Linebackers Kyle Ellison forced a fumble and Chase Goode recovered it setting up a 34-yard field goal and then Justin Visconti returned a fumble 10 yards to make the score 19-7.
Wharton’s Shannon King had 18 second half carries for 110 rushing yards and a touchdown and Randy Haynes Jr also had a couple of elusive runs.
Freedom’s quarterback Sebastian Cuevas hit on 8-of-11 passes for 80 yards and defensive linemen Dieucy Salomon had two sacks, Bryce Colee had three tackle-for-losses and half sack, and David Springs had two tackle-for-losses and half sack.