Freehold bounces back to defeat Jackson Memorial in football opener

Freehold High School quarterback Kamore Gill evades a Jackson Memorial defender during a game played on Sept. 2 in Jackson. Gill had a game-high two touchdowns in Freehold's 20-19 victory over Jackson Memorial on opening night. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Freehold High School quarterback Kamore Gill evades a Jackson Memorial defender during a game played on Sept. 2 in Jackson. Gill had a game-high two touchdowns in Freehold's 20-19 victory over Jackson Memorial on opening night. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF

JACKSON – Anything that could go wrong did go wrong for the Freehold High School football team as the Colonials kicked off the 2021 season against Jackson Memorial High School on Sept. 2 in Jackson.

The problems started when the coaches’ sideline headsets were not working during the first half. The Colonials’ woes continued when Jackson Memorial’s Albert D’Alessandro returned the opening kickoff 86 yards for a touchdown that gave the Jaguars a quick 7-0 lead

At halftime, Freehold trailed 19-7, but all that adversity did not phase the Colonials when the third quarter began.

Led by senior quarterback Kamore Gill and an outstanding performance by the defense, the Colonials shut out Jackson Memorial in the final two quarters and rallied for a 20-19 road victory.

“This team has tremendous character,” Coach Dave Ellis said after the game. “Not a lot of teams can come back from the (touchdown on the) opening kickoff and the bad calls on our part on offense.

“… I feel like the guys grew up. I could not be prouder of them for the way they responded to the amount of adversity we had tonight,” he said.

On the Colonials’ first possession of the third quarter, Gill completed a sideline pass to tight end Tyler Ochojski that ended up going for 46 yards, before senior Yah-Sin Calhoun scored from one yard out as Freehold cut its deficit to 19-14.

With 10:42 left in the fourth quarter, Gill scored on a two-yard run on fourth and goal. The Colonials led 20-19. Their two-point conversion attempt failed.

Jackson Memorial never scored again and Freehold had its first win of the new season.

Gill finished the night with two touchdowns, including a 45-yard TD reception from wide receiver Spencer Rushton in the first half.

On the final play of the game, Gill intercepted a pass in the end zone to close out the Jaguars.

“I just saw the ball in the air and knew I had to get it,” Gill said about his interception. “The second half was key for us. We were conditioned for it all during practice. It feels amazing.”

Freehold (1-0) will play Freehold Township on Sept. 10.

Ellis was proud of the way his players handled adversity and fought back to win the season opener. He said he believes that type of character and team camaraderie can help his squad as the season moves forward.

“They wouldn’t be denied,” Ellis said. “They care about each other. It showed tonight. They didn’t get on each other one time with all that adversity. That’s what helped us rally in the fourth quarter.”