By Joseph Garcia
BURNET – The rivalry game between Liberty Hill and Burnet was expected to turn into a classic Friday night at Bulldog Stadium, and the teams did not disappoint.
In a game that had early playoff implications, the District 8-3A battle came down to who had the ball last. That team was Burnet.
Panthers bounced out to an early lead, but were unable to hold on to a 14-0 first-quarter advantage. With the Bulldogs recovering two of their own kickoffs, they were able to outscore Liberty Hill the rest of the way to edge the Panthers at home 44-36.
Liberty Hill moves to 1-2 in the district and no possesses a 5-3 overall record.
The Panthers defense made an immediate impact on the game when on second-and-8 Burnet wide receiver Blayne Parisher was hit attempting to make a pass, which was picked off by Jason Reeves and returned to the 33.
Once the offense took over, it took just three plays on carries from Jesse Perez, Will Fromme and capped off by Corey Ferrell, who ran it in up the middle from 22 yards out. The point after game the Panthers a 7-0 lead with 10: 16 to play in the first.
Liberty Hill defense was at it again, forcing a fumble late in the first quarter with the Bulldogs driving for a score.
When the Panther offense got the ball back, two critical first downs were picked up. One first-down conversion came on a 26-yard catch by senior Joseph Dudgeon to the 46. The other took place on a fourth-and-1 play when Ferrell converted the first down with a five-yard burst up the middle.
Two plays later, quarterback Brandon Wells completed his second pass of the drive, this time to Perez for a 27-yard touchdown when he rolled out left. The Panthers took a 14-0 lead into the second quarter.
The Bulldog offense began to get on a roll in the second quarter, but the Burnet defense held the Panthers twice on fourth down to keep them scoreless for the rest of the half.
Burnet’s first two TDs came within three minutes of each other after a 27-yard catch by Cory Cavender and a one-yard QB sneak by Derek Kiser.
With the game tied 14-14 with 8:04 in the second, the Bulldogs were on the hunt for more and took the lead on a 40-yard touchdown catch by Jordan Barnard with 5:20 on the clock.
Burnet’s 21 unanswered points gave the home team a 21-14 lead at the half.
On the opening kickoff in the second half, the Bulldogs recovered the ball at their own 36 after a high, shallow kick.
Burnet would score on the possession on a 37-yard TD catch, to give the home team a two possession advantage that proved to be the difference in the game. Liberty Hill would make it close and pull within eight, but came up short for a 44-36 loss.
The Panthers will hit the road again next week for a matchup with Lampasas on Friday, Nov. 2 at 7:30 p.m.
For full story see the Thursday, Nov. 1 edition of The Independent.