PLAIN CITY — Turnovers can be the biggest difference in a football game. All it took was one. And it went Roy's direction, just like the previous six iterations of the Fremont-Roy rivalry.
The Royals held on for a 34-27 win at Moyes Field on Friday night, improving to 3-0 in this pandemic-affected season and beating their rivals for the seventh time in a row.
The turnover was an interception by Cooper Valencia with Roy leading 27-24. The Royals quickly took advantage with a Parker Kingston touchdown run two plays later and it was ultimately enough.
"(Valencia) missed a tackle earlier in the game that let them score, he got down on himself, we just brought him up. He basically won the game for us right there," Kingston said about the interception.
Both teams were hot out of the starting gate on offense. Izzy Gordon rushed twice for 60 yards and Kingston barreled for a 2-yard touchdown just 61 seconds into the game for the Royals.
The extra point was blocked and the one point ended up being the halftime margin, 21-20 for Fremont.
The Silverwolves got a 61-yard kickoff return from Tage Bingham after the Kingston TD that put them at the Roy 37-yard line. Kyler Kotter scored on an 8-yard run five plays later.
Gordon scored on a fourth-and-goal from the 1 after a long drive from the Royals to make it 13-7. Bingham responded by returning the ensuing kickoff 96 yards for a score with 25.6 seconds left in the first quarter.
Just 39.4 seconds later, Roy's Cade Harris was racing into the end zone at the end of a 79-yard TD catch where Kingston found him wide-open in the middle of the field. Roy 20, Fremont 14.
Barely three minutes later, Fremont running back Jayce Storey spun out of what was a sure 1-yard loss on third down and turned it into a 28-yard rushing score. Where defense was mostly lacking the first quarter-and-a-half, both teams finally got a defensive stop toward the end of the first half.
Fremont stopped Roy just shy of midfield, but Kingston's punt went over Bingham's head and was downed at the 2. Fremont's drive ended with a barely missed 55-yard field goal.
Gordon rushed 14 times for 127 yards in the first half alone. Trapper Behm gave Fremont a 24-20 lead with a 37-yard field goal in the third quarter. The Silverwolves had the ball with a chance to up the lead, but punted.
Fremont had several opportunities all night go by the wayside in the form of dropped passes, as well. Jacob Palmer made three catches for 58 yards, Hayden Hall had three catches for 55 yards and Body Ray came in for the second half with seven carries for 60 yards.
"The best 0-3 football team in the state, I think," Roy head coach Fred Fernandes said about Fremont.
Roy responded in kind with Gordon's second TD run, from 2 yards, after Cade Harris made a 35-yard catch along the sideline in double coverage. Harris would later make another impressive sideline catch in the second half and finished with 154 receiving yards.
Valencia intercepted Cannon Kofford for the game's first turnover having dropped an interception earlier in the game. Two plays later, Kingston kept the ball for a 32-yard TD run and a 34-24 lead.
The Kingston TD run came after dozens of rushes for Gordon, leading Fremont's defense to bite hard on the option.
"Our coach was saying to me all week, hand the ball to Izzy, hand the ball to Izzy. Once the defenses realizes it, they're going to suck in on Izzy. I just pulled it, there was no one out there and scored," Kingston said.
Everyone thought Gordon had the ball, including Gordon.
"I thought I had the ball so I just kind of sat there. Then another dude from Fremont came up and sat like that, and he thought I had it. And right behind him Parker was just running. So I was like, oh, I guess I don't have the ball," Gordon said.
Behm added another field goal late in the game to cut the lead to 34-27, but Roy recovered the onside kick and Gordon rushed for a first down to ice the game and give the Royals the rare opportunity to end the game in victory formation rather than sweating it out.
Roy held Fremont to six points in the second half after scoring 21 quickly in the first.
Fernandes said it wasn't so much defensive adjustments by the Royals as much as it was kicking away from Tage Bingham, who'd given Fremont two short fields to work with after two big kick returns to go with the TD.
Fremont High had two sets of bleachers behind each goalpost in an effort to better space fans out.
Before the game, a girl wearing a Fremont jersey got on the megaphone in front of the student section and implored the students, just finishing their first week of school, to follow the health guidelines in place this year.