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Consider these numbers for the following years:
2005 - 40
2006 - 51
2007 - 53
2008 - 47
2009 - 49
Those metrics represent the number of points that Liberty yielded in losses to Amherst.
Now, consider the number from this year:
That’s the total number of yards that the Minutemen yielded to Amherst in last Friday night’s 27-0 win over the Lancers.
The game summary: Liberty’s defense was dominant, its offense was satisfactory and the Minutemen notched their biggest win in at least the last five years.
“The key was that we were able to be patient on offense, because our defense kept us from having to play catch-up,” said Liberty Head Coach Chris Watts after the game.
Patience paid off when Liberty first struck paydirt early in the second quarter.
That’s when Thomas Schacter had two plays that he’ll remember for a lifetime.
With Amherst facing a third-and-six from its own 14, an errant handoff became airborne.
Schacter scooped the ball and rumbled down to the nine.
After a couple of illegal procedure penalties gave the Minutemen a third and goal from the 17, quarterback Kody Outong found Schacter in the end zone on a fade pattern.
Schacter clutched the pass to his chest, falling backward for the score.
As it turned out, that’s all the scoring that was needed.
But nobody knew that at the time.
On the ensuing Amherst possession, the Lancers picked up one of their four first downs of the game before the Liberty defense stiffened.
Andrew Morcum’s punt was fielded by Anthony Reynolds on his own 18. The speedster booked down the Amherst sideline before cutting across the grain. Seconds later, Reynolds cruised into the right corner of the end zone, giving cheerleader Brianna Carson, who’d run over to greet him, a low-five on his way out.
“My blocking was there the whole time,” said Reynolds. “I only had to make one move. They helped me the rest of the way.”
“That return was the cushion we needed,” said Watts.
Reynolds would score two more touchdowns. The first came on a quarterback keeper, as the versatile athlete filled in for Outhong.
The final tally came when he went around right end for a ten-yard touchdown. Oh, yeah. He was also 3-for-3 on PATs.
Give the offense its due. You have to score those points to win.
But, this one belonged to the defense.
Just as Schacter’s fumble recovery set up the first score, Ethan Taylor’s recovery and 20-yard dash set up the final score.
“This was sweet,” said Taylor of the win. Of his moment of glory, he added, “That was a lineman’s dream.”
Rumors of the 240 pounder’s move to tailback have proven to be unfounded.
Taylor’s heroics aside, there were plenty of substantial contributors on the defensive side of things.
Symbolic of the entire game was Liberty’s last defensive series.
Amherst lost 11 yards as Jerry Thompson and Scottie Murphy nailed Kirby Anderson; Matt Kerr and Thompson stuck John Cashwell; and Chase Key and Dennis Shoen sacked Darius Wilson.
Everyone on the defensive side looked good. Michael Bowyer led the way with 10 tackles. Corey Witt looked especially hungry at linebacker. Schaeffer did a nice job of breaking up what turned out to be Amherst’s best chance at a score, on a long pass attempt.
Stewart Grant, Liberty’s defensive coordinator, said, “That was the best defensive performance we’ve had in three or four years.”
You’ll get no arguments on that one, Coach.
-The Liberty defense registered 17 tackles for loss. There were 11 different Minutemen who registered TFLs.
-The Minutemen defense yielded 0.5 yard per rush.
-Of the four first downs the Minutemen gave up, two came via penalty.
-Outhong left the game in the fourth quarter to ice his ankle. His status is TBD.
-During warmups, a turkey vulture was spotted roosting in one of the light stanchions above the Amherst bench. An omen? Seems to have turned out that way.
Did you know?
The last time that Amherst was shutout in a regular season game was in 2002, when the Lancers were topped 28-0.
That shutout was tossed by none other than Liberty.
That was, by the way, the same Minutemen team that went on to win the State title.
While nobody is talking of such a destiny for this team (yet), it is an interesting fact.