No pass, no problem
The antiquated Panthers executed their tried-and-true Wing-T to perfection, galloping past the Tigers 49-28 Friday night at Panther Stadium as Liberty Hill celebrated homecoming festivities under rainy skies.
Rockdale will go down in history as the first Liberty Hill victim in its new 5,000- seat stadium.
The Tigers—which have dropped all six meetings between the two schools— open the season 1-3 for the second consecutive year, while Liberty Hill improves to 3-1 after dropping its home opener to Giddings.
For the third straight game, the Tigers certainly had several opportunities to succeed and once again outgained their opponent in a loss.
While it wasn’t exactly a carbon copy of last season’s 76-35 scoreboard punisher, there was plenty of scoring to go around.
Liberty Hill followed its blueprint to perfection, running the ball 66 times without throwing nary a pass.
In grinding out 382 yards, the Panthers held a death grip on the ball, almost twice as long as the Tigers, 31 minutes, 28 seconds to 16:32.
Liberty Hill scored on six of its seven possessions, the lone misstep was when Rockdale forced a fumble on their third possession at the 10-yard line as they were marching to another score and already leading 21-14.
The Tigers could not take advantage of the rare fumble and were forced to punt the ball away.
For their second score of the evening, the Panthers used the most economical route as River Marks returned a kickoff 98 yards after the Tigers had just tied the game at 7-all on Pearce Loth’s 65-yard scoring reception from Clayton Gibbs.
Five Panther runners gained at least 40 yards on the evening, led by Hunter Lindsay with 145 yards on 21 carries.
“It’s really what we wanted to do,“ said Liberty Hill Coach Jerry Vance. “I thought the coaches did a great job calling the plays and the players did well executing against a good Rockdale team.“
The stampede overshadowed an outstanding game from Gibbs who tied a school record with four touchdown passes on 21-of- 37 accuracy for 352 yards and without an interception.
Gibbs had a shot at a new school record of five touchdowns, but a dropped wide- open pass at the five-yard line late in the game prevented it. He was also the victim of several drops and miss-run routes.
The senior’s yardage total was the third-best in school history.
In an evening of untimely penalties, a crucial flag right before halftime denied the Tigers a chance to pull closer.
After Liberty Hill had grabbed a 28-14 lead, the Tigers engineered down the field and apparently had scored when Gibbs found Pudgy Burgess from the 4-yard line, but the Tigers were flagged for offensive pass interference, pushing the ball back to the 19.
Gibbs’ 16-yard pass to Burgess on fourth down was stopped at the 3-yard line and the Tigers trailed 28-14 at intermission.
Rockdale scored on its first possession of the second half on Whitsell’s 16-yard slant-in reception and instead of the score being tied, the Tigers trailed 28-21.
Liberty Hill created some separation on consecutive possessions, with typical ball control and short trips to the end zone for a 42-21 lead with 1:34 left in the third quarter.
The Tigers made one more stab at staying close to open the fourth quarter as Gibbs found a wideopen Burgess near the sideline, who gathered it in and sprinted down the sideline untouched to close the gap to 42-28.