Blocked PAT return caps Liberty Hill comeback win

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By Paul Livengood

SEGUIN — After two straight games at Panther Stadium, including the first-round playoff win against Canyon Lake, Liberty Hill hit the road last Saturday to win an overtime thriller over Beeville Jones in Seguin.

The Panthers won 35-33, and will face China Spring in round three this week.

Liberty Hill battled back from a 10-point fourth quarter deficit last Saturday, and ultimately took over the game in overtime.

At the start, Beeville Jones had Liberty Hill on its heels. The Trojans took a 13-3 halftime lead due to an early four-yard hookup from Beeville Jones freshman quarterback Seth Gomez to senior wide receiver Waydale Jones, followed by a 74-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Jacob Castro.

Gomez would finish the day with five touchdowns passing, accounting for all Trojans scores.

Despite trailing by 10 coming out of the half, Liberty Hill turned around the game on the defensive side of the ball. Senior linebacker Andy Becker recovered a loose fumble and returned it for a 30-yard touchdown on the Trojans opening drive of the second half. The scoreboard then read 10-13, and from there it was anyone’s ballgame.

Liberty Hill continued its third quarter dominance by holding the Trojan offense scoreless for nearly the entire third quarter. After senior running Freddie White found pay dirt for the first time, giving the Panthers a 17-13 lead with 2:20 left in the third quarter, the Trojans took the lead back quickly with two more of Gomez’s five touchdowns before the fourth quarter commenced.

The Panthers trailed 17-27. All the momentum was in the Trojans’ favor, and the Panthers’ backs were against the wall.

White narrowed the Trojan lead to 24-27 after his second touchdown of the game, scoring from 22 yards out. The Panther defense needed to step up and get a stop, and that they did. The Trojans were forced to punt with 2:45 remaining in the game and pinned the Panthers at their own 10-yard line.

Liberty Hill was forced into two fourth down situations on the game tying drive, and converted both times. The Panthers had a shot to end the game in regulation, but a dropped touchdown pass by Dalton Phifer set up a 32-yard field goal attempt by junior placekicker Michael Shipley. The junior nailed the field goal with 25 seconds left in regulation, and blessed the crowed in Seguin Matador Stadium with free football.

The Trojans came out firing in overtime as Gomez connected to Jones for the third time in the game on the opening possession of overtime.

Once again, however, Liberty Hill shocked everyone and the extra point was blocked. Junior defensive back Bryce McCatty returned the blocked extra point back to give Liberty Hill two points. The peculiar events resulted in the scoreboard reading “Beeville Jones 33, Liberty Hill 29.”

Per high school overtime rules, Liberty Hill still had their shot on offense. But because of McCatty’s two-point conversion, a touchdown would then win the game instead of simply tying and going to another overtime session.

It took four plays. The final drive was capped off by a four-yard touchdown run by White, his third touchdown of the game. White tallied a team-high 130 yards on 21 carries.

“It felt pretty good,” White said about the second half comeback. “The first half was kind of shaky. The second half, our o-line really kicked it in and that’s what helped us get the points. We have a prayer every day, and I think that prayer really kicked in today. It motivated us a lot.”

The Panthers’ comeback win seals a second date with district foe, China Spring, who defeated Liberty Hill 10-42 on the Friday of Halloween weekend. The Panthers will face the Cougars this time at the neutral site of Belton High School. Kick off will be Saturday, Nov. 26, at 2 p.m.

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