Liberty County High School overcame penalties and turnovers to earn a 37-14 win over Glenn Hills Friday night at Donell Woods Stadium.
The Panthers improved to 5-1 and 2-0. They play their first subregion game next week against Statesboro and Liberty coach Kirk Warner said his team can’t have a repeat performance and be successful against the Blue Devils.
“We just can’t have that against top-notch teams and Statesboro is definitely a top-notch team,” he said. “We just have to keep working at practice so we don’t make those types of mistakes.”
Statesboro was likely far from anyone’s mind Friday night, as Liberty found itself with its hands full against Glenn Hills.
The Spartans took an early 2-0 lead on safety after recovering a bad snap that sent both teams scrambling for the ball in Liberty’s end zone. They went up 8-0 on their next possession, which began at the Panthers’ 49-yard line after a short kick from Joaquin Lemapu. Glenn Hills missed the extra point.
Liberty’s next possession also ended in a turnover, but the Spartans gave the ball back to the Panthers two plays later.
This time, the Panthers cashed in after carries by JJ Grant and Trentice Williams moved the ball down to the Spartans’ 20. Liberty eventually scored on a 6-yard touchdown pass from Grant to Jeremy Caldwell-Fabergas and added a 2-point converstion to tie the score 8-8 early in the second quarter.
The Panthers wasted little time taking the lead. On its next possession, Liberty went up 14-8 on a 30-yard run from William and a 2-point conversion run by Raekwon McMillan.
McMillan set up the next Panther touchdown by picking off a Spartan pass near midfield. Williams had a carry for 13 yards and DJ Bratcher caught a screen pass moving the ball inside the Spartans’ 20. Jordan Waters ran down to the 4-yard line, then McMillan scored on a 4-yard run and carried in the 2-point coversion to give the Panthers a 22-8 halftime lead.
The third quarter started with both teams turning the ball over. But Liberty struck after a long punt return from Bratcher put the Panthers’ in business at the Glenn Hills 8-yard line. Williams ran in from there and McMillan scored on the 2-point conversion to extend Liberty’s lead to 30-8.
The final Panther touchdown was set up after Rashawn Harris picked off a Spartan pass inside the Glenn Hills 10. (DBCK). A 4-yard run and extra point kick by Lemapu gave the Panthers the 37-8 advantage.
Liberty’s starters sat out the rest of the game. Glenn Hills scored a late touchdown to make the final 37-
After reflecting on the win coach Warner thinks tying the game early on sparked his team to victory.
“We came out for two series and turned the ball over in those series and the defense couldn’t hold them out the second time,” he said. “But they finally broke them back and got decent field position and we punched that thing in and once we tied it up, I think that was the turning point.”