HICKORY – Freedom High’s defense dominated and quarterback Jayden Birchfield threw for more than 300 yards and two scores in a 49-0 romp past host St. Stephens on Friday night to open Northwestern 3A-4A play.
The Patriots held the Indians to fewer than 25 rushing yards and led 35-0 en route to beating St. Stephens for the sixth time in their all-time series.
Birchfield completed 18 passes to easily offset a 100-yard passing game from Indians sophomore quarterback Connor Williams.
Freedom was up 21-0 by the end of the first quarter after a scoring run by Trevon Lytle and Birchfield hitting Dezmond Caldwell twice for scores.
The Patriots (4-1, 1-0) extended their lead with a TD run by Jee Hardy and Birchfield throwing to Christian Fox for a score in the second quarter, making it 35-0 at the half.
Caldwell finished with seven catches for nearly 195 yards, giving him (unofficially) 28 receptions for 424 yards this season.
Birchfield cleared 1,000 yards passing with his big game. He unofficially has thrown for 1,212 yards after accounting for 2,796 yards and 28 TDs passing as a sophomore.
The victory moved first-year Freedom head coach Luke Little within nine victories of 100 for his career (91-56).
Freedom is at home on Friday at 7:30 p.m. for a conference game against Hickory while St. Stephens goes on the road to face McDowell (7:30 p.m.) on homecoming night in Marion.