Cartersville had three first-half turnovers and lost yards on two big sacks, but Liberty County wasn’t able to convert those opportunities into points. The Panthers fell to the Hurricanes 28-7 in the second round of the state playoffs Friday night in Cartersville.
The Hurricanes did convert big sacks and two key interceptions in the second half, allowing them to pull away from Liberty in the third and fourth quarters.
“They made the plays and we didn’t,” Panther offensive coordinator Ryan Glazer said after the game. The Hurricanes keyed in on Richard LeCounte and Jacquez Williams, blocking them both effectively until late in the fourth quarter when the pair worked their magic and scored a Panther touchdown to avoid the shutout.
Making matters worse for the Panthers was a Williams’ injury in the second quarter. He sat out most of the game until tapped in the fourth to try to score. He did.
Hurricane Tiamon Pennymon scored all four of Cartersville’s touchdown with kicker Jonathan Cruz making all the point after attempts.
The Hurricanes had the ball on offense first and marched to the Panther 18 yard line, but then fumbled. Liberty couldn’t generate forward motion and were forced to punt on fourth down.
That set up the Hurricanes on their own 46. Cartersville chipped away yards and Pennymon pushed the ball in on a short rush for their first TD.
The Panther offense started the second quarter, but again were forced to punt. The Panther defense then hit the quarterback for a four-yard sack and forced the ‘Canes to punt.
LeCounte and Panther quarterback Jaalon Frazier both played under center throughout the night. Frazier took the snap with the ball on the
Panther 45 but got sacked for a five-yard loss. Again the Panthers are forced to punt and the ball took a Liberty roll to the nine yard line. ’Cane quarterback Trevor Lawrence then threw a long pass for a completion, bringing the ‘Canes to near mid-field. Once again, Panther defenders Jacari Roberts, Sam Roberts, Jeremiah Gilbert, Calvin Holmes and Tramel Walthour stepped up coverage. The ‘Canes got sacked for a seven-yard loss and later forced to punt.
For the remainder of the second quarter, the teams traded sacks and interceptions. At intermission the Hurricanes were up 7-0.
In the third quarter, the offenses traded three-and-punts until the Hurricanes intercepted a pass.
Lawrence completed a long pass, putting the ‘Canes inside Liberty’s 20. Pennymon scored on a short scamper two plays later.
The Panthers had another three-and-punt. Then the ‘Canes offense got to work from their own 37. Lawrence completed a pass and the ‘Canes were suddenly at the Panther 37. A few rushes later Pennymon scored again.
The ‘Canes scored their final touchdown off another Panther interception and a one-yard rush from Pennymon.
Late in the fourth quarter, the Panthers were facing second down and 35 after a huge sack by the ‘Canes. LeCounte dusted himself off and Williams came back in. LeCounte tossed a 40-plus-yard touchdown pass to Williams for Liberty’s one score.
“Our defense kept us in the game, forcing those three turnovers in the first half,” Glazer said. “We played them tough defensively. As coaches we are proud of our guys. They played their hearts out. They are a great group of young men.”
Liberty closes the season 8-4 overall, 3-1 in Region 3-AAAA. They hosted the first round of state, for the first time in school history and made it to the second round for the second time since 2009.