By Joseph Garcia
It went down to the very last play of the game, but the Liberty Hill Panthers’ defense made the difference from start to finish Friday at Panther Stadium.
The Liberty Hill defense absolutely dominated the first half not allowing the Cuero offense beyond the 50-yard line. Swarm tackling and instinctive pursuit of the ball carrier held the Gobblers to just 30 total yards in the first half.
In the final minutes of the game, down 14-7, the Gobblers marched down the field in an attempt to tie. After converting a couple of first downs, the Liberty Hill (1-1) defense made one final stand as senior safety Cody Turner intercepted a desperate pass attempt in the back on the end zone to seal the 14-7 victory over the visiting Cuero Gobblers (0-2).
“We just did what we had been doing all game long,” explained Liberty Hill Head Coach Jerry Vance of his defense. “The kids came back and fought hard and had everything going.”
After five quarters without a score, the Panthers put their first points on the board when senior running back Jonathon Johnston trotted into the end zone on a toss right from quarterback Kyle Hester to give Liberty Hill a 7-0 lead with 10:49 remaining in the second period.
Cuero quarterback Stoney Schoenfeld could not find his rhythm as Panther defenders were in the backfield and in his face. Liberty Hill forced three fumbles and sacked Schoenfeld twice in the first half of play.
The Panthers’ second score came in a highly unlikely fashion.
With the punt team on the field lined up on the Gobblers 40-yard line, the Panthers ran a fake punt with senior Kevin Marksbury taking the snap.
Once the ball was hiked, Marksbury weaved in and out of Gobbler defenders and into the end zone for a 40-yard, fake-punt touchdown run.
For full story with quotes and stats, see the Sept. 8 edition of The Independent.