Dominant defensive performance against Canyon Lake seals undefeated district record for Panthers

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By Keith Sparks

The Panthers got the better of Canyon Lake in Friday night’s battle of the Slot-T offenses by a final score of 47-0 behind a dominant defensive performance by Liberty Hill. The win officially gave the Panthers the district championship as they finished undefeated in district with an 8-1 overall record.

Canyon Lake had arguably their most successful drive of the game on the first possession, but it ended in an interception by the Panther defense, which running back Kyle Harrison capitalized on by scoring from 45 yards out on Liberty Hill’s second offensive play of the game.

Liberty Hill turned the ball over on their next two possessions by way of a fumble and an interception, but the Panther defense held strong as they did the entire game, stuffing run after run, forcing punts and turnovers on down with consistency.

The Panthers wouldn’t score again until the second quarter as Harrison took off for his second touchdown of the game from 43 yards out to give Liberty Hill a 14-0 lead.

The Panthers forced another fumble in the second quarter as Kory Schmidt was able to recover a fumble, which Kristian Taggart capitalized on by scoring a touchdown from 14 yards out.

After forcing a punt and a turnover on downs in the third, Harrison scored again with under a minute left in the second quarter from 63 yards out to give Liberty Hill a 27-0 lead at halftime.

Both teams went scoreless in the third quarter as both Slot-T offenses stalled, running the clock while both teams turned the ball over on downs. After a Canyon Lake fumble was recovered by Wyatt Cheney late in the third, Harrison scored his fourth touchdown of the game from three yards out to give Liberty Hill a 34-0 lead.

Canyon Lake’s offense continued to struggle through the entire second half as the Panther defense seemingly stuffed every gap, highlighted by a sack from Cory Jellison deep in Canyon Lake territory. Jellison’s sack forced a punt and gave Taggart an opportunity to score his second touchdown of the game from 20 yards out to give the Panthers a 40-0 lead.

Trey Seward took advantage of some rare playing time at running back late in the game with a 54-yard touchdown run with less than four minutes to play, giving Liberty Hill a 47-0 lead, which would be the final score.

Prior to the game, Liberty Hill Head Coach Jeff Walker expressed nervousness about the possibility of showing potential playoff opponents how to stop the Slot-T offense. The Panther defense was dominant regardless.

“We played base, but we just moved some of our kids around and they played hard,” Walker said. “It’s amazing when you play hard. We have some size up front, so we’re a tough matchup for people that try to do that to us. All year, we’ve held a lot of people to just a few rushing yards. That’s been our strength, but we’ve been giving up the pass.”

The Panthers will play Bay City in the first round of the playoffs Nov. 16 at 7:30 p.m. in Giddings.

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