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Panthers handed first loss of season
No. 6 Statesboro stymies Liberty
Liberty County defenders Raekwon McMillan (42), Richard LeCounte (4) and Jonathan Britton (90) wrap up Statesboro running back in Fridays 24-7 loss at Donell Woods Stadium. - photo by Patty Leon

In a battle of undefeated teams Friday, everyone knew someone would be finishing the night with their first loss of the season.
Unfortunately for the Liberty County Panthers, it was their record that received the blemish as the No. 6 Statesboro Blue Devils beat them, 24-7, at Donell Woods Stadium.
The loss also gives the Panthers (6-1 overall) a 0-1 start for Region 3-AAAA, and it doesn’t get any easier with Wayne County and South Effingham ahead on the region schedule. Last season, Liberty won every game except those against region opponents.
The Blue Devils scored on their second offensive drive of the game. Converting on third-and-long, Statesboro made their way in to the Panthers 20. The Blue Devils’ running back plowed through what appeared to be a wall of Panther defenders yet managed to come out of the pile untouched scoring an 18-yard run.
The first quarter came and went with the Panther offense denied any chances of penetrating the Blue Devils’ red zone.
In the second quarter, the Blue devils again marched downfield. A key play came when the Panthers were called for making an illegal horse-collar tackle on Statesboro, which put the ball at the Panthers 25. Statesboro scored shortly after to go up, 14-0.
Liberty got on the scoreboard in the second quarter when Jordan Waters connected with Freddie McSwain on a 30-yard touchdown pass.
But that would be all Liberty was allowed as the Blue Devils tightened up their defense, effectively shutting down the Panthers’ running and passing game.
Adding salt to the wound, the Blue Devils hit a field goal shortly before halftime to be up, 17-7, at the midway mark.
Official stats were not available by press time, but the defensive standouts for Liberty were Raekwon McMillan and Richard LeCounte. Both had impressive displays of hustle and made several plays to kill a Blue Devils drive and twice kept them from punching in another touchdown. Despite their team’s loss, the highly sought-after duo did not disappoint the representatives from Alabama, Ohio State and Clemson in attendance.
Liberty is off this week. Next up is a trip to Jesup on Oct. 25 to face Wayne County.

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