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Minutemen are playoff bound

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Top Glass to move to 6-2

By Mike Forster

  In a game that started with a couple of surprises, Liberty settled down to take care of business.  The M-Men used a balanced attack and just enough defense to top visiting E.C. Glass by the score of 47-35.

The first surprise came when the Glassmen looked over at Liberty during warm-ups and saw star halfback Matthew Smith in civilian clothing.  Smith, with nearly 1,000 rushing yards in Liberty's first seven games, was in a cast due to breaking a finger against Jefferson Forest.

The Minutemen, in turn, were stunned when the Hilltopper offensive unit took the field.  That's when they learned that Head Coach Ben Martin had made a big change to his offense, handing signal-calling duties over to sophomore Donnie Morgan.

That move seemed to backfire on the first two plays Glass ran:  a self-recovered fumble and a pick by Liberty defensive back Montana Willis.

Morgan would go on to settle down and redeem himself with a solid game.  

Smith, on the other hand, could only watch and hope that his Liberty mates would pick up the slack in his absence.  Did they ever.

The Minutemen pounded 300 yards on the ground and quarterback Austin Porter completed the two passes he needed to in posting a 47-35 win over a Glass team that just would not go away.

Liberty didn't do a lot to chase them off.  In fact, after Willis made that pick, Liberty fumbled the ball away.

Two possessions later, Dustin Hiner blasted off on a 35-yard TD scamper that was called back for a Liberty illegal procedure penalty.

"We kept managing to not put the thing away," rued Liberty Head Coach Chris Watts.  

The Minutemen finally got it together in the second quarter.  Following the nullified touchdown, Porter led a 10-play drive that ended with Chase Key driving up the gut and into the end zone.

Glass responded with a six play, 69-yard scoring drive of its own, but Liberty would soon right the world.

Eighteen seconds after that Glass touchdown, Hiner scored as the second man through on the option.  He broke left after hitting the 2-hole and outburned the entire Glass defense.  This time, there would be no flags.

Liberty got some breathing space when Porter guided his crew on a 53-yard drive.  That drive was quick, thanks to Key's 43-yard ramblin', bouncin' and punchin' run which set up Devin Carper's two-yard score.

After Glass made it 20-14, Liberty responded.  With 10 seconds remaining in the half, Porter tossed a 36-yard strike to Tre'von Lightfoot, all alone in the end zone:  27-14.

"Austin did the right thing," said Watts.  "He saw Tre'von, 1-on-1, and took advantage of it."

Whenever Glass struck, Liberty would strike back.  With the score 27-21, Hiner recovered a fumbled 'Topper pitch.  That story line ended with Carper blasting in from 16 yards out.

The killer came when Trevon Lightfoot, playing centerfield, picked off a long pass, raced down the sideline and posted another six points on the Liberty tally.

The win improved the Minutemen to 6-2, something that wasn't lost on a couple of the team's game captains.

"This means a chance to go to the playoffs," said Chris Crock.  Indeed, the win assured Liberty of that ticket.

"This is a great turnaround from last year," added Allen Kittrell.  "It's great to see all our work pay off."

It sure is.