Panthers use ground game to stop Brownwood

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Friday's rain didn't discourage Panther fans. Students filled the student section early and stayed to watch the Panthers beat Brownwood. (Kathy Canady Photo)

Friday’s rain didn’t discourage Panther fans. Students filled the student section early and stayed to watch the Panthers beat Brownwood. (Kathy Canady Photo)

By BOB VARMETTE

Liberty Hill senior quarterback Nick Hernandez scored three touchdowns rushing in the second half to rally the Panthers to a 43-36 win over the Brownwood Lions Friday night in non-district football at Panther Stadium.

Hernandez scored on runs of five and 38 yards in the third quarter to lift Liberty Hill (2-1) into the lead. Hernandez added a touchdown run of 52 yards with 11:04 in the game to give the Panthers a 43-22 advantage.

Then, Liberty Hill had to withstand a late onslaught from Colt Bertrand and Brownwood (1-2). The Lions scored twice in the final 7:05 of the game, cashing in on a Bertrand to Harley Price pass and a two-yard run from Price with 4:18 in the game that cut the Panthers’ lead to 43-36.

The Panthers again won on the ground, rushing for 397 yards, with Hernandez leading with 142 yards. Jon Shannon, who did not appear to play in the second half, finished with 116 yards on 10 carries.

The Panthers rushed for 158 yards in the first half, the biggest chunk coming on Shannon’s 68-yard touchdown run with 7:45 left in the first quarter. Shannon, who rushed for 110 yards in the first half on nine carries, scored his second touchdown of the half on a five-yard run with 9:58 in the second quarter.

Shannon’s touchdown capped a three-play, 13-yard drive that began when Austin Thrash picked off Bertrand and returned it 44 yards to the Brownwood 13.

The Panthers got their third touchdown from Hunter Lindsay on a four-yard run with 5:01 in the first half, giving Liberty Hill its first lead of the game, 21-15. Lindsay’s run finished an eight-play, 49-yard drive.

The Lions got on the scoreboard first after the first of the Panthers’ two turnovers in the first half. With a short field, the Lions went 20 yards in three plays, with Price scoring on a two-yard run with 8:30 left in the first quarter for a 7-0 lead.

Bertrand went 10-of-16 for 77 yards in the first half and was intercepted once. He connected with Isaac Sanchez on a 13-yard pass with 4:24 in the first and then hit Connor Howard with a four-yard scoring pass with 14.8 seconds in the first half to lift the Lions into the lead, 22-21.

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