FREEDOM 13, LETO 12: A conversion kick sails wide with 22 seconds left to clinch the first victory in Patriots history.
By DON JENSEN
Published October 11, 2003
TAMPA - It will always be known as Patriots Day at Freedom High.
Freedom, a second-year school, watched Leto's placekicker miss an extra point with 22 seconds remaining for a 13-12 victory Friday night at Mahin-Hoffman Stadium. It was the Patriots' first-ever varsity win after 10 losses.
"I guess the bleeding had to stop sometime," Freedom coach Jarrett Laws said. "All of our coaches and players have worked very, very hard. But to be honest, this win is bittersweet because of the guy on the other sideline."
That guy is Leto coach Jerrell Cogmon, an assistant at Freedom last year. Laws gave Cogmon a big hug after the game and said, "Hang in there. You'll get it turned around."
Freedom (1-5) took advantage of poor special-teams play by Leto (1-5), which was coming off a 72-0 loss to Armwood. Two Falcon punts failed to materialize because of poor snaps and Bryant Leonard missed both point-after kicks. Leonard was making his debut after being promoted to the varsity on Monday.
"(Leonard) is a quality kicker," Laws said. "He just missed them."
Leto set the stage for the dramatic ending by marching 95 yards on 12 plays, all on the ground, as quarterback Michael Scott scored his second touchdown from 1 yard out.
Freedom's two scoring drives covered only 3 and 1 yards, thanks to the first bad punt snap and Malik Eugene's 26-yard fumble return to the Leto 1. Eddie Davis and Brandon Lattimore scored on short runs and placekicker Chris Surdovel's first conversion turned out to be the winner.