In a game that featured 84 combined points and seven lead changes, it was a defensive stop in the end zone that made the difference.
Carlyle survived a late drive by Freeburg to hold off its Cahokia Conference rival 44-40 Friday night.
The Midgets, who started its final drive at its own 1-yard line, watched it end as a pass from Bobby Tedesco to Tyler White in the end zone was ruled incomplete with less than a minute left in the game.
“We threw a pass in the end zone and we felt like we made the catch, but the referees didn’t,” said Freeburg coach Ronnie Stuart. “It’s hard, because this group of kids worked their tails off and they kept fighting. We have to remember how this feels in our gut because we have to get ready for Central next week.”
A 45-yard touchdown run by Tedesco pulled the Midgets to within 44-40 with 9:40 left in the fourth quarter.
Freeburg forced Carlyle to punt, and then took over from its own 1 yard line with 7:47 left to play in the game. The Midgets marched down the field where it faced second down and goal from the Indians’ 1-yard line.
But Carlyle’s defense stood firm, dropping Logan Stone for a yard loss and then driving Brendan Meng back nine yards to set up fourth-and-goal from the 11.
Tedesco zipped a pass to White in the end zone, but the pass was ruled incomplete as the Indians took over on downs.
“Our defense obviously needs a lot of work, but they stepped up when they needed to tonight,” said coach Chris Birkner, whose team lost 45-42 in week one. “We felt like we played well enough at times to beat Nashville last week, but Nashville’s experience took over in the fourth quarter and hopefully we learned from that.
“We are happy to come out with a win tonight.”
Tedesco ended with 380 yards of total yards in the losing effort, leading the Midgets with 227 yards on 25 rushes while going 9-14 passing for 153 yards. The senior signal caller rushed for two scores and passed for another two.
“That’s why he’s the quarterback, we want him touching the ball every play,” Stuart said. “The guys rally around him and they work their tails off for him to be able to make those big runs and big passes.”
Alex Huels was 10-19 passing for 180 yards to lead Carlyle, throwing two touchdowns and rushing for another. Donte Nettles rushed 20 times for 132 yards and two scores. Tyler Siever caught five passes for 96 yards and a score, as Dru Johnson hauled in two passes for 78 yards and a touchdown.
Both teams are now 1-1 on the season. Freeburg is at Central next week and Carlyle hosts Red Bud.