At the end of Pittsburg’s 49-33 victory over Freedom, a young fan looked up at Pittsburg quarterback Jerry Johnson.
Just the fact that the 6-foot-3 QB donned a Pirates uniform put the child at a loss for words.
“That’s so awesome,” the young fan said.
Johnson was once in the same shoes. Back when he was in middle school, he always thought to himself, ‘What’s a way he could be remembered in his community?’” The answer was the number 22. That was Johnson’s lucky number, and now he sits at the top of the record books for Pittsburg.
After his 203-yard and three-touchdown performance, Johnson broke the single-season record for most passing touchdowns, previously held in a three-way tie between Jason Guerrero, Joe Lewis and Julius Mozee.
“All glory to God,” said Johnson. “I really wasn’t worried about the record. I was going with the flow, taking it one play at a time.”
Pittsburg scored 17 unanswered points to begin the game, but it wasn’t a walk in the park by any means. Freedom came into the game 0-7, but played its best game all season.
With just over three minutes left to play, Freedom scored twice, including a passing touchdown from Jake Byrne to Matt Quesada, and a Jordan Lee run. Johnson scored his record-breaking pass to Brian Pierce, Jr. — the same player who caught his record-tying pass — to give the Pirates the 23-14 leverage heading into half.
Freedom struck back on its first second-half possession on Lee’s second touchdown of the game, set up by DeNiro Killian Jr.’s 63-yard catch, to cut the Falcons’ deficit to 23-21.
Johnson added to his record by throwing his third touchdown pass of the game to Avant Muldrow, to make it 36-21.
After a series of back-and-forth plays between the two teams, which saw Muldrow add to the lead on a 31-yard drive, while Lee cut the score to 49-33 with his third touchdown of the game, and Brett Basola recorded a sack, forcing a Pittsburg three and out.
It looked promising, but Freedom couldn’t hang on to the ball, and it cost them the game with seven turnovers. Freedom wasn’t able to recover.
“Nobody has given up,” said Freedom head coach Andrew Cotter. “Everyone is fighting. We keep competing, and hopefully they can apply that outside of life.”
Pittsburg head coach Victor Galli said his team has a lot of work to do with the unofficial league championship game against Liberty scheduled for Oct. 18.
“We got ahead of ourselves,” said Galli. “We got a lot of stuff we need to clean up after this. It’s going to be a challenge. It should be fun.”