“I really think our mentality led to this victory tonight,” Lions head coach Nate Smith said. “Even when we were down we expected to win. We made some adjustments, and just kept our focus, that was the key. Even when we were down by 10, it didn‘t affect our focus.”
Antioch held a lead going into the locker room at halftime, but Liberty was ready to overcome that margin.
With just over three minutes left in the first half, Lions senior quarterback Devyn Parsons short armed a deep sideline route and was intercepted by Panthers senior defensive back Xavier Bosely, who took it back 37 yards for the score, giving Antioch a 21-17 lead going into halftime.
After forcing the Lions to punt on their opening possession of the second half, the Panthers drove for another touchdown, this one a 6-yard run by junior running back Eddie Robinson. Down 27-17, the Lions confidence never wavered.
“They have weapons over there,” Smith said. “They had guys flying all over the place. But we adjusted.”
The Lions would be forced to punt on their next possession, but their defense went into lockdown mode for the remainder of the game and kept the Antioch offense from sustaining long drives. A touchdown run by senior running back Josh Straiten for the Lions made the score 27-23 late in the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter, the Lions took the lead with seven minutes to play when Parsons threw a 15-yard scoring pass to junior running back Caleb Moravec to put Liberty ahead for good 30-27. The Panthers would try in vain to move the ball, and a turnover on downs helped Liberty score again to seal the deal, 37-27.
With the victory, the Lions improved to 3-4 overall, with a 1-1 clip in the Bay Valley Athletic League. After losing their homecoming game, Panthers fell to 1-6, with a 0-2 league mark.
“Our defense played phenomenal, and we were resilient,” Smith said. “We thrived in situations we normally don’t, such as third-and-long plays. We never lost sight of our expectations.”
The Lions were ready to go on offense as they took the opening kickoff and marched right down the field on the strength of their ground game. Less than four minutes into the game they jumped out to a 7-0 lead. The Panthers would answer right back on the ensuing kickoff when junior running back Josh Oseguera found a seam and burst down the middle of the field for a 98-yard touchdown return, tying the score at 7-7.
The Lions offense appeared unfazed by the quick score and lack of time to catch a breather, going right back at the Panthers with their rushing attack, and finding the end zone again to reclaim the lead 14-7.
Antioch would once again respond in sharp fashion. A mere two plays after getting the ball back, Oseguera struck for a big play again, this time hauling in a screen pass from senior quarterback Billy Cloninger and motoring down the sideline for a 47-yard touchdown, evening the score again at 14-14.
In the junior varsity game, the Lions edged the Panthers 40-38.