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Packers show late burst in loss to Byron

The Austin football team couldn’t contain Byron’s most dangerous player, but they did show signs of being a team that doesn’t quit as they lost to the Bears 35-14 in its home opener in Art Hass Stadium Saturday.

Byron senior running back Austin Freerksken racked up 202 yards and four scores on the Packers, but most of that damage was done in a first half that saw the Bears (3-0 overall) lead by as many as 28-0. Freersken also ran for over 150 yards and four first half TDs when Byron beat Austin 42-13 in 2019.

“He hits the hole and he has great vision,” Austin head coach Ed Schmitt said of Freerksken. “He makes a cut-back and he’s fast kid to stop. We did a better job on him in the second quarter and the second half.”

Teyghan Hovland brought the Packers (1-2 overall) to within 28-14 early in the fourth quarter when he converted a six-yard TD run on fourth and goal. Austin’s defense came up with a stop and its offense started its next drive at its own 43-yard line with plenty of time left, but the Bears sacked Hovland on first down and forced a quick three-and-out.

Byron finally put the game away when Freerksken scored on a 33-yard burst with 3:20 left in the contest after Austin went four-and out.

Austin junior Joe Walker, who ran for 48 yards, said the Packers had no choice but to keep competing, even after they trailed 28-0.

“We’re so close as a team and we knew we had to come out and play in the second half, especially on senior night,” Walker said. “Their running back was pretty fast, but we should’ve been prepared for that. We came out and made some mental mistakes and I made some at linebacker. We’ve got to play all four quarters.”

The Packers started slow on offense and they didn’t record a first down until Walker had a two-yard bust to midfield with Byron leading 28-0 with 6:30 left in the second quarter. Tommy Fritz later converted a run of five yards to the Byron 15 on fourth and three and Fritz hauled in a 15-yard TD strike from Teyghan Hovland to bring the Packers within 28-6 with 1:55 left in the first half.  

The Bears sacked Teyghan Hovland and two of the first three plays of the game and the second sack resulted in a fumble that Easton Hulke recovered in the end zone to make it 7-0 Byron.

Schmitt liked the way his team bounced back after a slow start and he’s hoping the Packers can carry that momentum over when they host Faribault at 7 p.m. on Oct. 30.

“At halftime, we told them they have two choices,” Schmitt said. “They could hang their heads and throw the towel on or go out there and fight like they want to get back in the game. The kids did a really good job of battling back in the second half.”

SCORING SUMMARY

Byron 21 7 0 7 – 35

Austin 0  6 0 8 – 14

First quarter

(B) Easton Hulke 0 fumble recovery (1 play, 0 yards) (John Lutzi kick) 10:10

(B) Austin Freerksken 6 run (6 plays, 63 yards) (Lutzi kick) 5:04

(B) Freerksken 7 run (5 plays, 56 yards) (Lutzi kick) 1:32

Second quarter

(B) Freerksken 18 run (4 plays, 52 yards) (Lutzi kick) 10:57

(A) Tommy Fritz 15 pass from Teyghan Hovland (10 plays, 60 yards) (kick failed) 1:55

Third quarter

No scoring

Fourth quarter

(A) Hovland 6 run (8 plays, 80 yards) (Owens from Hovland)11:53

(B) Freerkrsken 33 run (2 plays, 36 yards) (Lutzi kick) 3:20

AUSTIN STATS

Rushing: Joe Walker 14-for-48; Teyghan Hovland, 15-for-22, TD; Tommy Fritz, 4-for-8

Passing: Teyghan Hovland, 9-for-16, 61, TD; Novell Jackson, 1-for-1, 36

Receiving: Gage Manahan, 2-for-41; Novell Jackson, 1-for-33; Tommy Fritz, 5-for-12, TD; ; Ethan Owens, 1-for-8; Walker, 1-for-1

Defense: Logan O’Rourke, 1 sack

Penalties: 4-for-30

BYRON STATS

Rushing: 295

Passing: 64

Penalties: 4-for-40