By JOHN LIKANJE
ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Freddie Brock’s fall sport was soccer during his childhood days. Now, the East senior plays football along with basketball and baseball. That transition rewarded him a Division I scholarship to UMass Amherst and he proved why on Saturday afternoon. Brock scored the game-winning touchdown with 13 seconds left as the Eagles stunned UPrep, 26-22, at Marina Auto Stadium.
Trailing 22-20 with 1:38 remaining, the Eagles needed a miracle after turning it over via an interception. The Griffins were two yards short of a first down and icing the game. Instead, UPrep elected to punt on fourth down in their own territory. Brock, who already had 93 return yards at that point, did what he had been doing all game: run. The senior tailback sprinted up the left sideline 47 yards to the house for his fourth touchdown of the contest.
“Honestly, I don’t even know what that was,” Brock said about UPrep’s punt. “I didn’t even know they were going to punt it, to be honest. I thought they were going to fake it, but it just happened.
“We just had to get the ball back, man. If we didn’t get the ball back, we’d never have been in this predicament to even win the game. Thanks to the defense. They played it out.”
“At that point, I was thinking, offensively, we needed to run to get in field goal range or take a few shots deep on their playmakers,” East co-head coach Steve Flagler said of his original game plan prior to Brock’s touchdown.
Brock scored his first three touchdowns on consecutive drives spanning the second and third quarters, including a four-yard run to give the Eagles a 20-16 lead.
For the game, the senior running back scrambled 17 times for 121 yards and had four catches for 71 more. Brock compiled 332 all-purpose yards as well. The UMass Amherst commit has 501 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns through five games this season.
“It was the linemen,” Brock explained. “They were blocking their butts off the whole game and I got to thank them.”
“He’s run power very well,” Flagler said about Brock. “That’s been a good play for us all year. Anytime he touches the ball, he’s a threat to score, so that’s nice. He was feeling it today.”
Junior Yasiir Daniel had 12 carries for 23 rushing yards and two receptions for 20 more.
Senior defensive back Ajay Sonny led the defense with 11 tackles. Sophomore linebacker Justus Ross-Simmons had eight and Naeem Folks compiled seven along with a sack.
For UPrep, senior running back Christon Jean switched to quarterback and led an eight-play, 73-yard drive for a 22-20 lead with 7:13 left. Mark Rogers broke multiple tackles and galloped 29 yards into the end zone to cap off the drive.
“We decided to go with Christon, who gives us a more dynamic offense on the field,” UPrep head coach Kala Gause explained. “We suffered from fatigue. Guys were cramping, so we couldn’t stay with it the whole time because of personnel issues.”
Jean and Rogers had 62 rushing yards apiece. Jean opened the second half with a 75-yard kickoff return touchdown to extend the Griffins’ edge to 16-6.
Freshman Jamari Johnson replaced Clyde Davis, Jr. under center and completed 7-of-10 passes for 82 yards. Mahki Connor caught two balls for 40 yards. Junior Andre Facen, Jr. took a blocked punt into the end zone to give UPrep an 8-0 lead near the end of the first half.
Senior linebacker Ray Rivera led the defense with 16 tackles. Jean picked up eight while Mohamed Hussein and Anthony McCoy had five apiece. Hussein snagged an end zone interception as well.
“I just feel like we should’ve done better defensively,” Gause said. “There were times where it seemed like we had them deep. God was out here for them.”
East (4-1) will travel back to Marina Auto Stadium to take on Wilson Magnet Saturday at noon. UPrep (4-1) looks to bounce back Friday night at Hornell. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.