The Liberty Eagles Defeat the Salem Tigers in a Nailbiting Thriller
Wed, 10/21/2020 - 11:34am admin
Michael L. Plum, sports correspondent
The now 6-2 Liberty Eagles landed in the Salem Tiger's Den Friday night. Only a select few visiting fans were allowed into the stadium with a special voucher because of COVID concerns.
The Liberty Eagles were down nine players. Michael Shoup was out with a knee injury and Jentry Acklin was sidelined with a hip injury. Seven other players, among them five starters, were quarantined. The young Eagles were sure to have an uphill battle missing several of their linemen, especially the always impressive Kaden Daniels #78.
The Salem Tigers were escorted onto the field by local law enforcement and first responders with lights flashing, sirens blaring, and fire truck horns honking. The energy aided by the cheering hometown crowd was quite impressive. Team captains met at midfield; Tyler Watts #10 and Tiger Garrett Connell #15 shook hands. The Eagles won the toss and elected to receive to start the game.
On the Eagles’ first possession, they would get one first down, but on the next set of downs received a penalty for blocking in the back, which ended the drive with a punt. The Tigers virtually mirrored the Eagles’ first possession minus the penalty and also punted.
On the second possession in the first quarter, Watts took over on the Eagles 41-yard line with 59 yards until paydirt, and the Eagles started moving the ball.
It was first-and-ten and Carter Pruett #5 ran for four yards. At second-and-six, Pruett #5 ran for the first down. Early in the game with no score, the Eagles were at third-and-sixteen after an offensive holding penalty. Watts in the shotgun dropped back to pass, and the ball intended for Drew Ripko #7 fell incomplete just off of the receiver’s fingertips.
Surprisingly, at the 43-yard line and fourth-and-sixteen, the Eagles went for it. Head Coach Kenaga used some misdirection to gain the first down. With everyone expecting a punt, the Eagles lined up in their offensive formation in what appeared to be an end-around run.
Liberty got their first down when the ball flew backwards across the field.
Tyler Watts #10 scored the Eagles’ first TD, and Tanner Ripko made the two-point conversion. Liberty led 8-0 at 2:05 in the first.
The Tigers’ next drive ended with a fumble recovered by Senior Dalton Pauly #24. However, the Eagles failed to move the ball and punted early in the second quarter. The Tigers capitalized on the turnover.
Quarterback Garrett Connell #15 connected with Kaden Coffman for a 58-yard TD. Caden Camden scored the two-point conversion, knotting up the game at 8-8. On the Eagles’ next series, Carter Pruett #5 received a backwards pass from Watts and ran for a nine-yard TD. Noah Jester #8 scored on the two-point conversion, bringing the Eagles lead to 16-8.
Tiger Caden Camden #5 scored a TD followed by Dawson Mock #6 scoring a two-point conversion, which tied up the game at 16-16. The second quarter scoring ended with a 35-yard reception from Watts to Jester at the one-yard line, and then the pigskin being punched in by Carter Pruett #5. The halftime score stood at 22-16.
The Tigers tied the ball game at 22-all on their first series of the third quarter with a 35-yard TD reception for Connell to Devin Atchison #24. Eagles Defender Dalton Pauly #24 was hip-to-hip and had the ball slip through his hands.
The Eagles wasted no time in getting the lead back. Watts put another eight points up, bringing the score to 30-22.
The Tigers scored another TD, but failed on the two-point conversion on their next possession, bringing the score to 30-28. Liberty did not score offensively again. However, late in the fourth, Tigers Quarterback Connell #15 under pressure threw the ball out of the back of the endzone securing a two-point safety for the Eagles.
The Eagles will travel to Houston to take on the Tigers next on October 23, 2020 at 7:00 pm.