Pittsburg is a much stronger team than its 4-4 overall record coming into the game suggests. They had whupped Freedom 42-21 the week before, threw a scare into undefeated Deer Valley before falling 33-35 the week before that and dominated Heritage 46-20 in the first week of league play. Meanwhile Liberty was being collectively outscored 157-9 by Antioch, Heritage and Deer Valley.
So you didn’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure it was probably going to be another long night for Lions fans at Ohmstede field. The only question was whether Liberty would be able to put up much of a fight for a while, as Freedom had done the prior week when they led Pittsburg by a touchdown after one quarter and tied them at the half. Unfortunately, it was never close in Friday’s 52-7 blowout, although Liberty did have several scoring opportunities that could have made it a bit more interesting had they capitalized.
There are 52-7 blowouts that feel like they easily could have been 104-7 blowouts; and there are 52-7 blowouts that feel like they could have been 52-28 blowouts. This one felt like the latter, although the what-might-have-beens were cold comfort on a cold night for Lions fans.
“I thought we hung with Pittsburg pretty well,” said Liberty Coach Nate Smith. “52-7 – it didn’t feel like that except for the big plays they had on offense. They ripped off long runs on us. They had a couple of big pass plays. I thought we should have had 28 points tonight. We fumbled the ball once inside the red zone. Twice we put the ball in the end zone and penalties bring it back out and we don’t score. We had another long run called back for a penalty. If we just limited the big plays (by Pittsburg), we are right in the game.
“I know it’s a 52-7 game, but really it was three unfinished drives and us missing a couple of tackles to enable big plays. They didn’t necesarrily drive the field on us. It was big plays (by Pittsburg). Offensively, I thought we played our best game in over a month. I thought we moved the ball well all night long. We just couldn’t finish drives. I’m proud of the effort, but we need to stay together better as a team. In the second half when they started to pull away, we kind of fractured a little bit. And I thought that’s what really cost our defense on some plays.”
Pittsburg’s game plan was pretty much to have its line open up holes for its fleet of fleet running backs to run through for touchdowns. Alex Foster scored their first touchdown on a 36-yard run. Breon Butler scored twice – once on a 43-yard run and another nearly as long to start the second half. Arthur Brown scored on an 80-yard kickoff return. Billy Wells ran it in from 11 yards for the final score. Quarterback Julius Mozee also threw two TD passes to Robert Jiles to complete the scoring.
Pittsburg was ahead 28-0 when Liberty finally got on the board for its sole game highlight just before the first half ended. With a little more than a minute left, the Lions quickly drove from their own 26 with fine passing by quarterback Devyn Parsons. He hit Anthony Garcia once and Garrett Slocum thrice, the last one caught on the 10 and run into the end zone. But the other scoring opportunities were thwarted by penalties and turnovers.
Liberty, which is 3-5-1 overall and 0-4 in league play, has an opportunity to finish the season on a positive note in Saturday’s Bell Game against Freedom, which starts at 1 p.m. at Freedom. The Falcons have played better this season than their 0-9 record indicates, and Smith is expecting a tough battle.
“Freedom’s been getting better and better,” he said. “This week they kind of took it on the chin from Heritage. But prior to this they were getting better and better every week. So, right now if anybody is looking at it, they would probably have to say that Freedom’s been playing better than us recently. But I thought, despite the score, we played much better tonight. So I think it will be a close game.
“To me it’s very reminiscent of the year 2000 when both teams came in without a win in league play. And it was a 27-21 game that wasn’t decided until the last seconds. It was a very exciting, thrilling game. And I think we can expect some of the same this coming week.”
Pittsburg, which is 5-4 overall and 3-1 in league play, hosts Antioch Saturday afternoon in the Big Little Game.