Liberty jumped out to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter and never looked back Friday, building a 33-lead and the second win of the season.
“I think we are starting to turn a corner now,” Panther head coach Kirk Warner said. “We had four starters out against Effingham, but the last two games we have played pretty well and put up some points and played hard defensively. So I think we are certainly moving in the right direction.”
Panther running back Jarquez Williams covered a huge chunk of the 86 rushing yards the Panthers had against the Buccaneers. The first offensive play of the game Williams dashed for a 67-yard touchdown.
Liberty defensive lineman Travion Freeman scooped up a fumble during the Bucs initial possession and ran 10 yards for another touchdown. Freeman has been a bright spot for the Panthers, according to defensive coordinator Tony Glazer.
The Panthers have one of the strongest and quickest defensive fronts in Southeast Georgia.
“This year, I think this is one of the best defenses that we have had since I have been here and that is saying a lot,” Glazer said. “We are battling through some injuries but we have two sophomores, Travion Freeman and Cleon Hamilton, that are having to play in the place of seniors De’Shawn Hudson and Montrell Washington. Those sophomores grew up a lot quick for us.”
On the Panthers’ second possession, quarterback Ja’alon Frazier led his team down the field, hitting Richard LeCounte with passes and setting up a 4-yard slant pass to LeCounte for a 21-0 lead.
Four plays later, LeCounte fielded a MCA punt and broke away for a 55-yard return and Liberty’s fourth TD.
In the final minutes of the second quarter Liberty used its ground game and senior running back Eli Polite surged in three yards, sending the Panthers into the locker room up 33-0.
Liberty moves to 2-1 on the season. The Panthers face their toughest test of the season next Friday at T.A. Wright Stadium at Savannah State University against defending AA State Champion Benedictine.
“We are certainly going to find out how good we are,” Warner said. “Nothing against the other two teams that we have played in the last two weeks, but we have played some good football but we are going to have to play great football against BC.”
Though the Cadets won state last season, several of their star players are now Division I athletes. One key weapon was defensive back and receiver Brad Stewart now a starting wide receiver at Georgia Tech. Stewart proved a formidable man coverage opponent on LeCounte.
“They graduated some talented players but they still have a lot of great players and they play tough, hard, well coached football,” Warner said. “As long as we play good football I think that we have a good opportunity against them. I know I am not going to get any sleep tonight. I am going home to start watching their scrimmage film.”