Liberty D-vine in Magna Vista win

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By Mike Forster

A voter registration booth was open for business outside the gate of the Magna Vista-Liberty football game last Friday.

Meanwhile, a pair of urchins had drawn up a game poster touting “Boo for president,” despite the fact that Carlton “Boo” Payne is many years shy of eligibility for that office.

Into this celebration of democracy stepped the Liberty defense, which keyed a landslide victory, 34-7, over the visiting Warriors.

That stout defense limited Magna Vista to 135 total yards, nearly half of which was picked up in the fourth quarter against the Minutemen second-stringers and Liberty holding a 34-0 lead.

The party got started when return man extraordinaire Anthony Reynolds fielded a bouncing Warrior punt on his own 37 yard line. The sophomore went right, until he found himself in a Warrior ankle hold. He kicked his way out of that one, changed direction and sprinted down the left sideline.

After the Minutemen defense held Magna Vista to a 4-and-out, Liberty found itself set up on the Warrior 37. Lavarta Tanner ripped through the gut of the Vista defense on three straight plays.

Then, from the 20, quarterback Tyler Bowyer found Kordero Thompson on a post route to the left corner of the end zone.

Bowyer lofted a high pitch. Thompson, who was behind Magna Vista defensive back Harvey Taylor, used exceptional timing in outjumping his opponent, making the snag for the second touchdown.

That was all the scoring in the first quarter. It was also all the scoring in the first half as the second quarter became one to forget, at least for the offense.

On three consecutive series, the Minutemen put the ball on the ground, with Magna Vista pouncing on it twice.

The second quarter also was remarkable for a nice stand by the Warriors, topped off by their denying Reynolds a first down on a fourth-and-one from the 11 yard line.

While the offense saw some golden opportunities slip through its fingers, the defense ensured that no such opportunities came the Warriors’ way.

Middle linebacker Michael Bowyer played consistently fine defense, with crisp reads all evening.

Defensive linemen Barry Heck and Denis Kiely applied consistent pressure on QB Anthony Redd.

Brandon Sparrow played like an absolute wild man. The junior made his presence known all over the field.

On several occasions, Sparrow wrapped up both Redd and the fullback to whom he was showing the option.

Not sure who has the ball? Sparrow’s answer was to tackle both simultaneously.

The deepest penetration of the half came near its end when Magna Vista pushed to the Minutemen 43, but Payne outleaped everyone to haul in an interception of Redd’s pass.

Payne’s grab certainly improved his candidacy in the eyes of those presidential sign makers. It was the second of the season for the big man.

Liberty Head Coach Chris Watts was clearly not pleased with what he saw in the early going. “That first half was the worst offensive half we’ve had in a long time,” he said.

The coach was particularly miffed that his team hadn’t exploited the Magna Vista looks to put the game away early. “We missed the chance to work on other things,” he lamented. “We have to get our ground game established.”

Whatever Watts said at halftime, it hit the mark.

With Sparrow and Dylan Hatcher providing pressure, the Warriors had another quick series.

Upon getting the ball, the Minutemen offense kicked into gear. Paced by a Tyler Bowyer 17 yard sprint around left end, the 50 yard drive ended with Thomas Clark’s two yard plunge, making it 21-0.

Logan Johnson’s kickoff sailed a long way for the touchback, and Magna Vista set up shop on its 20.

After getting its second first down of the game, Magna Vista set up the screen. Fierce pressure from Michael Bowyer forced Redd’s throw and Tanner stepped in to intercept it, blasting 35 yards for a touchdown.

An illegal block on the play negated the TD and the Minutemen found themselves on the Warrior 26. From there, the drive was quick, culminated by Clark’s touchdown dash off tackle, big Ricky Dooley paving the way.

The final Liberty score came at the start of the fourth quarter, on a nifty 10-yard dash around left end by JJ Starks, with tight end Thomas Schacter helping light the path.

So, there you have it: A decent win, keyed by a solid defense.

Against Magna Vista, that was plenty. The question is whether it will be enough against the rest of the Minutemen slate.