By Monroe Williamson, Leader Sportswriter
On a cool Friday night in Taylor when the Liberty Hill offense couldnât get over the hump, the Panther defense threw up roadblocks for the Taylor offense and came away with a 10-6 victory to boost Liberty Hillâs record to 2-0 in district play.
The Panthers (5-2 overall) host Llano Friday night. The Yellowjackets also sport a 2-0 district record (and 5-2 overall).
Said LHHS coach Jerry Vance: âMy goal is to play for a district championship when we play at Burnet. We have to be better against Llano, and have to get over the hump because thatâs what championship teams do.â
A second-quarter touchdown run by Brandon Corn and 32-yard field goal by Spencer Stratton (in the third period) provided all the scoring for the Panthers. The âPurple Thunderâ defense held the Ducks at bay to ensure the win.
Liberty Hill rushed 59 times for 273 yards and threw the ball seven times, completing one pass for 22 yards; two LHHS passes were intercepted.
Brandon Corn carried the ball 22 times for 93 yards, including the 2-yard touchdown run in the second period. Teammate Jonathan Johnston picked up 78 yards on 18 carries. Zach Leger ran for 52 yards on 12 totes and quarterback Blake Thompson picked up 41 yards on five carries.
The Panthersâ defense held the Ducks to 243 yards total offense, with Taylor picking up 113 yards on 28 rushing attempts. The Ducks completed six of 15 passes for 129 yards.
Bo Simpson led the Panther defense with nine solo tackles and three assists. Jake Sadler had six solo tackles and one assist and was credited with two tackles for a loss. Josh Woodbury had five solo tackles with one assist and broke up two passes. Caleb Greer and Bryce Bishop were both active with two solo tackles apiece, two assists and one tackle for a loss. Derek Bates forced a fumble and Justin Webb recovered a fumble.
Neither team could move the ball in a scoreless first quarter. In the second quarter the Panthers embarked on a 13-play drive that was halted by a penalty. Liberty Hill punted and Taylor took on its own 12, but the Ducks went three and out and punted. The Panthers set up shop at the Taylor 39. Five plays later Corn scored from on yard out, and Spencer Strattonâs PAT kick was good giving the Panthers a 7-0 lead with 3:18 left in the half.
Taylor took the kickoff and mounted a drive that ended midfield when Bates jarred the ball loose and Webb recovered. But the Panthers failed to take advantage as Taylorâs Justin Fitzgerald intercepted Thompson to end the half.
In the third quarter Liberty Hill had a 10-play drive that included a fake paint. The drive took 4:16 off the clock and ended on a punt. Taylor went three and out and punted back, with the Panthers taking another 5:16 off the clock on a 12-play drive that stalled at the Taylor 18. Stratton kicked a 35-yard field goal to give Liberty Hill a 10-0 lead after three quarters.
After exchanging punts to start the fourth quarter, Taylor took over with 6:04 left at the Duck 12. Seven plays later Mikey McIntire scooted around the right side for a 31-yard touchdown. Cody Turner nearly blocked the PAT kick, which wound up hitting the crossbar and failed. With 4:27 left Taylor trailed by a 10-6 score. The Ducks attempted an onside kick, but Bishop caught the ball for Liberty Hill and the Panthers then ran the clock out.
It should be noted that twice later in the game, the Ducks missed opportunities on play-action passes. The play-action passes to the tight end over the middle were wide open; however, both times the pass was dropped by the receiver.