Liberty's Nifty Fifty

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M-Men spoil Rusty homecoming, 50-21

By Mike Forster

  For football fans in this area, the Gothic "L" embossed on the side of the helmet stands for "Liberty."

For fans of Roman numerology, the letter "L" stands for "50."

The two concepts came together beautifully last Friday evening, as the Minutemen hung L points on a well-regarded Rustburg team.

The 50-21 romp did a number of things:

-Improved the Minutemen to 4-1, overall.

-Gave the M-Men their first win in Seminole District play.

-Gave Liberty an early playoff seeding leg-up on the Red Devils, fellow Division 3 aspirants.

-Put a massive damper on a massive crowd of Red Devil homecoming revelers which packed Hades Stadium.

Most impressive of all, the win showed the rest of the Seminole District what this once lightly-regarded team can do.

"I was proud of our kids," said Head Coach Chris Watts.  "All week long, I looked to this as a huge game."

Certainly, Watts was keen on discovering how his charges would respond following last week's disappointing loss to Heritage.  Turns out, he had little cause for concern.

From the start of the contest, Liberty was as the proverbial 800-pound gorilla:  doing whatever it darn well felt like doing.  And it felt like having Matthew Smith knife through the right side of the line.

With a combination of chasm-ripping line play, deft execution of the option and Smith's speed and strength, the Minutemen offense was machine-like.

Liberty opened the game with a four-play, 71-yard drive that consumed all of 47 seconds of the game clock.  Smith carried the ball on all four plays, including his 34-yard sprint into the end zone off of right tackle.

The next time the M-Men got the ball, they took a leisurely six plays to march 67 yards for the score.  Smith carried on five of those plays including a 43-yard touchdown trot on a pitch.

The M-Men scored twice more in the first quarter.  Smith broke off left tackle for a 69-yard tally.  Porter called his own number and raced in from 15 yards out to make it a 27-0 game.

At this point, many in the crowd were likely asking, "If Homecoming is supposed to be a happy time, why did we schedule Liberty?"

The Rusties seemed to respond to the despondency in the stands.  Quarterback Randall Jones drilled a 19-yard pass to Brent Thacker, putting the Rusties on the Liberty one.  From there, Jones snuck into the end zone, putting the Red Devils on the board.

Jones then led an 85-yard drive that culminated in his five-yard dash off left tackle.

The Red Devils got a wee bit greedy, though.  With time running out in the first half, Jones heaved a pass from his own 25.  Liberty's Tre'von Lightfoot picked it off and raced down to the Rusty nine.  Liberty, in possibly its only mistake of the game, fumbled the ball away on the next play.

Still, that 27-14 halftime lead was more than enough.  Smith (20 rushes, 301 yards for the night) went on a 67-yard scoring jaunt early in the third quarter.  Porter found Lightfoot on a 37-yard scoring strike.  Devin Carper went up the gut to score from 15 yards out, to wrap up the offensive fireworks for the M-Men.

"We wanted to pull it together," said game captain Montana Willis.  "We wanted to show that last week (the Heritage game) wasn't normal for this team.  We knew we had to bounce back." 

Well, the Minutemen did just that, taking it to the Rusties on hostile turf and showing that this Liberty crew need not be overlooked by any future Seminole foe.