By Joseph Garcia
It could not have been a better sendoff for the seniors of Liberty Hill High school
as they really took it to heated rival Burnet in front of a standing room only crowd
Friday night at Panther Stadium.
In their final tune up before the playoffs, the Panthers outmanned the Bulldogs on
Senior Night, scoring the most points of the season in a 65-33 blowout.
The defense sent a message on the first drive of the game forcing a three-and-out
after Brice Bishop, Jordan Skinner and Bryce Dallmeyer teamed up for a sack on
Burnet quarterback Nick Melvin.
On the Panthers’ first possession, four first down runs, two by seniors Jonathan
Johnston and two by Bo Simpson, set the offense up for a first-and-10 from the
Bulldog 17-yard line.
One play later, sophomore fullback Cory Ferrell scored from 17-yards out on a trap
play with 5:48 left in the first. After a Jadon Boatright extra point, Liberty Hill was
on top 7-0.
The Bulldogs answered right back with a scoring dive of their own after Burnet
senior Zack Maldonado returned the ensuing kickoff 45 yards to the Liberty Hill 38-
After converting two fourth downs with passing plays caught by Burnet tight end
Jordan Barnard, the second of which set the Dawgs up at the Panther 15.
The very next play, senior running back Demone Belmarez broke about five tackles
on the way to a Burnet touchdown. The score tied the game 7-7 with 1:59 left in the
Following a Burnet punt, the Panthers tacked on a Boatright 30-yard field goal to
five them a 10-7 advantage. Nearly two minutes later, Liberty Hill got the back and it
only took two plays to add another score.
Johnston received a toss left and proceeded to outrun the Bulldog defense and with
the aid of a good block by Simpson at the Burnet five, he rumbled over a defender,
into the end zone for a 67-yard touchdown to give Liberty Hill a 17-7 lead with 8:31
left in the half.
Johnston ended the first half with 171 yards on 11 carries, Simpson finished with 41
and in total the Panther racked up 263 yards rushing before heading to the locker
Liberty Hill added another touchdown after the defense forced a Burnet punt. With
freshman quarterback Brandon Wells, the Panthers converted two first downs and
Simpson scored from 19 yards out on an inside handoff and a Boatright extra point
put the score 24-7.
Burnet struck back with a 62-yard drive, converting three first downs along with
way. On third-and-six from the Panther 21, Bulldog quarterback Melvin dropped
back and found senior wide receiver Zack Carter in the back corner of the end zone
to pull Burnet to 24-13 with 1:02 left in the half.
Liberty Hill made the most of the minute they had to work with before the halftime
After Johnston converted a first down to the 50, a first down catch by Cameron
Speegle from Wells, set the Panthers up at the 40. Next, Johnston took the handoff
and avoided a plethora of would-be tacklers, giving Liberty Hill a first down at the
15 of Burnet.
Two plays later, Wells rolled out to his right and found a wide-open Boatright with
awaiting arms to haul in the 15-yard TD catch. He tacked on the point after attempt
to give the Panther a 31-13 lead at halftime.
It didn’t take long for Boatright to score again.
He took the opening kickoff of the second half 78 yards to quickly increase the
Liberty Hill lead to 38-13.
The Panthers’ defense came out swarming on Burnet’s first possession of the third
quarter. Senior safety Cody Turner picked off a Melvin pass and returned it 40
yards to the Burnet one-yard line. One play later, Ferrell took it in for his second
touchdown of the game, increasing the Panther lead 44-13 only two minutes and
three seconds into the second half of play.
After the Bulldogs turned the ball over on downs, the Panthers took over at the own
48-yard line. It only took three plays for Liberty Hill to score. It was Johnston again
who took it to the house, this time to the tune of 52 yards to extend the Liberty Hill
Burnet added a score to make it 51-19, but the Panther scored yet again on a 29-
yard run by junior David Thomasson, increasing the lead to 58-19.
Liberty Hill added a 21-yard Simpson touchdown, while Burnet tacked on a couple
scores of its, but it was the Panthers’ night as they won big 65-33.
The fact that Liberty Hill took care of business against Burnet means the Panthers
avoid a date with the Wimberley Texans and instead with face Navarro for the bi-
district round of the playoffs next Friday, Nov. 11 at 7:30 in Bastrop.
For complete story with quotes and stats, see Nov. 10 edition of The Independent.