By TAYLOR GRAFFT
It was the night of Homecoming and down on the field the Liberty Hill Panthers were scoring at will.
The Panthers’ offense was almost perfect on Friday night against Rockdale on a wet and rainy turf. The Panthers scored on nearly every offensive possession. Their one miscue a fumble inside the red zone.
“It’s really what we wanted to do,“ said Head Coach Jerry Vance. “I thought the coaches did a great job calling the plays and the players did well executing. It’s a good Rockdale team.“
The most impressive statistic of the night, the Panthers did not punt the entire ballgame.
“All three phases of the game came together,“ Coach Vance said. “Offense played well. Defense came together real well. Kicking game did a wonderful job. We run a kick return back for 98 yards. I think all three of those things coming together really gelled some things.“
Hunter Lindsay’s 4-yard touchdown run with 8:30 remaining in the first quarter opened the scoring for the Panthers. The drive started on the Panthers’ 33-yard line.
Rockdale responded with a 65-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Clayton Gibbs to his wide receiver Pearce Loth with 6:41 remaining in the first quarter to tie the game at 7-7.
On the ensuing kickoff, River Marks returned the kick 98-yards into the end zone to put the Panthers up 14-7 with 6:25 remaining in the quarter.
With 1:19 remaining in the first, senior fullback Nick Barrios punched it in from two yards out to increase Liberty Hill’s lead to 21-7.
In the second quarter, Rockdale cut the lead in half with 9:32 remaining. Gibbs found wide receiver Devante Burgess for a 17-yard touchdown. The extra point made it 21-14.
Senior running back Will Fromme redeemed himself after a costly fumble on the Panther’s previous drive in the red zone. Fromme scored from 10 yards out on the next possession to make it 28-14 with 3:30 remaining in the half.
At halftime, the Homecoming Queen and Homecoming King were announced to the Liberty Hill fans. Senior running back Cory Ferrell won King, while Blaire Lord won Homecoming Queen.
The Rockdale Tigers came out in the second half with a quick two minute scoring drive to cut the lead to seven, 28-21 with 10:38 remaining in the third quarter. Gibbs found his wide receiver on a post route in the end zone for a 15-yard touchdown.
Cory Ferrell punched it in from 1-yard out on the Panthers’ possession on a 56-yard drive with 6:21 remaining in the third.
With the score 35-21, the Panthers forced Rockdale to punt after defensive end Chris Robison sacked Gibbs on third down.
Nick Barrios scored from the one-yard line after the Panthers took over possession with 1:34 remaining.
Rockdale answered back with a 66-yard touchdown pass on a blown assignment by the Panthers’ secondary.
Homecoming King Cory Ferrell scored his second touchdown of the night with 4:43 remaining in the third quarter from one yard out.
That would prove to be the final score of the game with the Panthers taking a 49-28 victory over Rockdale on a rainy night.