The Liberty County Panthers brought their three-game skid to an end in convincing fashion Wednesday.
The Panthers evened their season record at 3-3 and notched their first Region 3-AAA victory of the season with a 34-0 romp over the Groves Rebels at Donell Woods Stadium.
“The last two weeks, we felt like we had a really good chance to win those ball games,” Panthers coach Tony Glaser said.
Carlos Singleton threw three touchdown passes, and the defense held the Rebels to 116 yards of total offense on a blustery night.
The win over Groves came after a toe-to-toe struggle with No. 2-ranked Calvary Day and a onepoint loss to Johnson the week before.
“The game last week, I definitely feel we should have won,” Glaser lamented. “Some things didn’t go our way. We definitely battled and gave ourselves a chance to win.”
But with the first region win came Glaser’s determination to cut back on the number of penalties the Panthers incurred.
“It’s going to be huge,” he said of the focus on penalties this week. “We’re not being where we need to be. We’re not doing our assignments. These are little things we have to get cleaned up. I know it was a short week. There was a lot of emotion from last Friday night. I think the kids were uptight and we played a little uptight. It was trying not to make mistakes, and we try not to make mistakes, you make mistakes.”
One — actually, two, since there were a pair of infractions on the play but only one was enforced — wiped out a 67-yard touchdown pass from Singleton to James Summersett.
A blindside block penalty on a jet sweep cost the Panthers 17 yards from their original line of scrimmage back to their own 2. A holding call on the same possession — the same series that included the negated Summersett touchdown — cost the Panthers another 18 yards, as it was marked off from the spot of the foul.
Two personal foul penalties allowed the Rebels to keep drives going, although those possessions eventually ended without points. There were also offsetting penalties twice in the game, including one instance where the Panthers committed two penalties on the same play.
Groves’ longest play from scrimmage on the night went for 16 yards. But the Rebels never got inside the Panthers’ 25yard line and interceptions snuffed out their deepest advances. Joseph, who came up with an interception in the end zone, and Xavier Lyons came up with picks to end the threats.
Liberty’s defense also had 15 tackles for losses on 53 Groves offensive snaps.
Singleton connected with Jamar Joseph on a 3-yard touchdown pass to cap the opening drive, Ron Golden took a skinny post 80 yards for a second quarter score, and James Summersett had a diving catch of a 17-yard strike in the third quarter.
With a strong breeze blowing throughout the game, getting an early lead and making the run-heavy Rebels even more one-dimensional was part of the game plan.
“We were trying to play with tempo and try to get the offense moving up and down the field,” Glaser said. “We feel like when we’re locked in on offense, we’re tough to stop. We missed some throws early. We felt we could get a run on them. We have to clean up some of the little things.”
The Panthers had two other opportunities for points go by the wayside. A drive to the Rebels 27 ended with four consecutive incomplete passes, and a fumble stopped a drive that reached the Groves 8 in the second quarter.
Paul Brown, who had 91 yards on nine rushing attempts, added an 18-yard touchdown run, and Dwayne Allen had a 4-yard run.
Liberty, 1-2 in the region, visits Savannah Country Day on October 7 in a Region 3-AAA matchup.