With its first outright Bay Valley Athletic League title in sight, the Freedom High football team hosted Deer Valley on Friday night and looked every bit like the juggernaut many expected heading into the 2012 season.
Three-year starting quarterback Dante Mayes threw for 357 yards, Washington-bound wide receiver Darrell Daniels caught 11 passes for 195 yards, and a quick and athletic defense dominated after the first quarter in a convincing 34-14 win over the Wolverines.
The win clinches a share of the BVAL title for the Falcons (7-2, 4-0 BVAL). After finishing as co-champions with Pittsburg a year ago, Freedom can win its first outright title with a win at rival Liberty on Nov. 2.
"It's not over yet," Freedom coach Kevin Hartwig said. "We got one more week. It's got to go through Liberty now. It's a rivalry game and a lot can happen, so we're not talking championship just yet."
Deer Valley (6-3, 2-2) looked as though it was going to make things much tougher on Freedom as quarterback Nsimba Webster rushed 52 yards for a touchdown on the game's first play from scrimmage. The Wolverines rushed for 162 yards in the first quarter but had two promising drives end in a missed field goal and a turnover.
Freedom's defense held the Wolverines to 21 total yards from the end of the first quarter until 5 minutes left in the game.
Mayes had two TD passes, one to Daniels and one to Devontae Young on the final play of the first half.
Pittsburg 34, Heritage 18: Pirates running back Harris Ross entered Friday's game against host Heritage with a respectable 339 yards and two touchdowns on 38 carries for the season. He left the game as future star in the making.
The junior tailback exploded for 237 yards and two touchdowns on just 14 carries in a win over the Patriots.
"It feels nice," Ross said after his career-high effort.
Jamal Lockett, the Pirates' leading rusher, was held to 53 yards on 12 carries, but the Pirates didn't have much to worry about with Ross slicing up the Patriots defense.
"It is good (to have depth at running back)," Ross said. "If one goes down, we have another one to step up."
Pittsburg (6-3, 3-1 BVAL) won for the second consecutive game after losing a 49-48 thriller to Freedom on Oct. 12. Freedom clinched at least a tie for the league title, and holds the tiebreakers, with a win over Deer Valley on Friday. The Pirates' regular season finale is next Friday against Antioch.
A win for the Patriots (2-7, 2-2) would have made them playoff eligible, and Heritage could still qualify for a spot with a win over Deer Valley next week.
Heritage started off quickly against Pitt, recovering an onside kick to open the game and then capitalizing on a 7-yard run by Mason Sargent to take a 6-0 lead.
Pittsburg ran off 27 straight points after that, and the closest Heritage would come was 27-15 in the third quarter on a 41-yard touchdown pass from Anthony Carter to Travon Covington-Zeno. Carter was 17 for 25 for 188 yards for the game.
-- Ken Silman, correspondent
Antioch 48, Liberty 13: After giving up an early touchdown, Antioch scored 20 unanswered first-half points in a home win over Liberty.
Quarterback Hunter Karnthong led Antioch (6-3, 1-3 BVAL) with 141 yards rushing and three scores, including two in the opening half.
Karnthong's second rushing score came on a draw play on third-and-8 from the Liberty 49. His run capped off an eight-play drive that started at the Antioch 10 after a turnover on downs.
Liberty (2-7, 0-4) twice drove the ball deep into Antioch territory in the second quarter but was held twice on fourth-and-goal.
"We gave up a couple of long drives early on. Luckily our defense was able to make some stops," Antioch coach John Lucido said.
Antioch finished with 339 yards rushing, including 191 yards in the first half.
Cody Maghuyop led Liberty with 104 rushing yards and a touchdown.
-- Paul Burgarino, correspondent