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Hasta la Vista, baby

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Minutemen fall in a wild one

By Mike Forster

 

One hundred points.

One thousand yards.

Forty nine broken hearts.

Those were the key statistics from Liberty's playoff opener, held Friday night.

The Minutemen were on the slightly shorter end of a 51-49 loss to Magna Vista.

In a game where each team racked up over 500 yards, it was the Warriors who came away with the final, deciding score.  That touchdown sent the 49 lads who make up the Liberty team from soaring joy to harrowing despair.

"I hate it for the kids," said Liberty Head Coach Chris Watts.  "They were giving their heart on every play."

It is of little consolation that they played in one of the best games in recent memory.

The final score, more fitting for a basketball game than one fought on the gridiron, came from both team's balanced attacks.

Going into the game, this one figured to be a contest between a ground-loving Liberty crew and a pass-happy bunch of Warriors.

Indeed, Magna Vista quarterback Shoalin McGuire passed the potato 22 times, 11 of which were caught.

But five of those catches wound up in the end zone.  And two more set up short scoring runs.  McGuire passed for 325 yards, averaging nearly 30 yards per completion.

Liberty, on the other hand, scored in a variety of ways.  Quarterback Austin Porter dashed home from a yard out to cap Liberty's opening drive.

Matt Smith scooped up a fumble, in stride, to account for Liberty's second touchdown.  Devin Carper scooted in from five yards out to finish off a 74-yard drive near the end of the first half.  

Note, we said, near, not at.   Carper's tally made it 21-12, with 53 seconds remaining.  With 7.4 seconds remaining, McGuire connected with Brent Hankins on a 38-yard scoring pass to draw the Warriors within three at the break.

With the momentum with the homestanding crew, Magna Vista scored midway through the third quarter to make it 25-21.  But Liberty responded with two long touchdowns.

  First, Porter found tight end Jamaal Preston in the near flat.  The bruising Preston then went on a 45-yard jaunt to payola. Then, Smith went 75 yards to paydirt as the third option from the Stacked-I.

Magna Vista responded with a pair of quick touchdowns before Dustin Hiner punched through a hole created by left tackle Jared Cico.  Hiner made the most of the opportunity, dashing 75 yards in untouched fashion.

After the Vistans scored with another long touchdown pass, the table was set for some real drama.

With 1:27 remaining, and Liberty trailing 45-42, Porter took the snap facing a fourth-and-11 from his own 46.

The junior scrambled, eluded a would-be tackler and launched the ball down the center of the field.

There, Hiner stood with two Warrior defenders.  Somehow, the senior plucked the ball as the two Magna Vistans fell to the ground.  He turned and scooted in for a 49-45 lead near the end of the game.

Note, we said near, not at.

On Magna's first play from scrimmage, McGuire hit Bryce Hankins with a dump pass.  Hankins turned it into pure gold as he went unscathed into the end zone and a 51-49 lead.

"I'll gladly give up five-yard hits," said Watts.  "But we just didn't make the tackle."

Porter simply didn't have the time to make the comeback a reality.

Said Watts:  "I can't say enough about the effort.  The seniors put their hearts and souls into it."

No doubt, Coach.