Howell County News/ Gretchen Creighton PhotographyHowell County News/ Gretchen Creighton Photography

Eagles play with heart in loss

I'm not sure what Liberty head coach, Brock Kenaga, said to his football team after a disastrous second quarter in Friday's game in Thayer, but it worked.
Liberty's second quarter was one reminiscent of a Stephen King novel. Thayer took the lead moments into the second quarter on a Jackson Willison 6-yard run. They followed it with an onside kick recovery and another Willison TD run from 11 yards out. Next, Thayer picked off a Liberty pass near their own goal line. Then, the Bobcat's Logan Grimes caught a 95-yard TD pass from Landry Pitts. Moments later, Thayer's Rowan Spencer nabbed a pick six. To top it off Liberty's QB Carter Pruett went down with a leg injury. When the smoke cleared and the half ended, Thayer was up 34-8.
The Eagles didn't give up, however. They came out in the third quarter and played like a team on a mission, a team with heart, like a team who doesn't know the meaning of quit. Nobody would have blamed them if they felt sorry for themselves when their second quarterback in three weeks went down with a serious injury. That's not what this team did. Adversity is a commonality in football and in life, and the Liberty Eagles football team embraced it. Sometimes it's not how you start. It's how you finish, and that's something Liberty can hang their hat on and build from.
The comeback bid started when an inspired Liberty team lost their QB Carter Pruett to a leg injury late in the second quarter. If this sounds like déjà vu, it's because two weeks ago the Eagles lost their starting all-conference QB Tyler Watts to a broken leg in the Strafford game. So, who did Liberty turn to? In stepped Junior Drew Ripko, and he filled in admirably. Ripko threw 3 touchdowns in the second half to lead his team. Noah Jester caught 2 touchdowns on the night, one from Pruett and one from Ripko.  Jentry Acklin and Drew's cousin Tanner Ripko caught the other touchdown passes. While the comeback ultimately fell short 28-42, Liberty grabbed momentum and maintained it the entire second half outscoring Thayer 20-8 during that time.
Next week Liberty welcomes the Ava Bears to town for an SCA conference showdown.
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