The Freeland Falcons entered Friday night’s contest against Birch Run just one win away from clinching a postseason berth. This pursuit of Week 10 will have to wait for Week 9 to become official, as the Panthers of Birch Run handled Freeland rather easily in a 35-12 game.

Early on in this one, it was the Birch Run defense that stepped up to the plate as Forrest White intercepted the pass from Ben Wellnitz and returned it 40 yards to the end zone to put Birch Run ahead by seven. The resilient Falcons responded almost immediately however, as Aidan West capped off a 13-play, 73-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown run to pull Freeland within one point after the first quarter.

At the start of the second quarter, Freeland was back in action as Wellnitz found Trey Morgan for a 43-yard touchdown strike. Another unsuccessful two-point try left the score 12-7 Freeland. With about a minute to play in the half, Birch Run beautifully executed a fake field goal play, as Brady Wright found Blake Szemites for a nine-yard touchdown pass to give the Panthers a 14-12 lead heading into the locker room.

Freeland would never recover from that momentum shift, as Birch Run outscored the Falcons 21-0 in the second half of play. Logan Turner’s three-yard run started the scoring in the third quarter to give Birch Run a 21-12 lead. In the fourth quarter, Turner broke a 33-yard run to start the scoring and expand the lead to sixteen points. Trent Naragon’s 1-yard touchdown run later in the quarter was the final scoring play of the game, giving Birch Run a final lead of 35-12.

With the win, Birch Run improves to 5-3 on the season. Next week they take on 5-3 Saginaw Nouvel Catholic, with the winner clinching a berth to the playoffs. For Freeland, they slide to 5-3 on the year after suffering their second straight loss. They still find themselves one win short of an automatic playoff berth, and they will try to earn it in the season finale against Frankenmuth, who is 7-1 on the season.