As good as it gets on Homecoming: Eagles claw Tigers, 55-0
Saturday, Oct. 19
Liberty's T.J. Hogan carries the ball during a 55-0 win over Brentsville on Friday. --Fauquier Times Staff Photo/Randy Litzinger
Liberty played like kings in a 55-0 Homecoming thrashing of the Brentsville Tigers Friday, rushing for five touchdowns and forcing three turnovers.
After dealing with a heart-breaking season opening loss to Handley and rough schedule, things are looking up for Liberty (3-4), which next faces high-flying Eastern View (7-0) in Bealeton this coming Friday.
Liberty's defense shut down Culpeper 35-6 earlier in the week and silenced the Tigers' running game Friday, giving them two solid wins in five days.
“I was really happy with what we did up front. They have scored some points on some good teams this season and we really shut them down,” said head coach Sean Finnerty. “It was a good defensive effort up front.”
The LHS offense benefited all night long from short fields. Between returning punts and forcing turnovers, the Eagles started a majority of their drives in Tiger territory.
“We started slow on offense but we got a lot of short fields with the punt returns and things really took off from there,” said Finnerty. “It is easy to score points when you are getting the ball in their territory every time.”
The Eagles stalled on their first drive but their second possession started after senior Garrett Utterback returned a punt to the Brentsville 34-yard line. Six plays later , T.J. Hogan showed some speed when he outran four defenders in a race to the pylon. Hogan’s seven-yard score opened the scoring.
A scary scene took place early in the second quarter when Brentsville sophomore Chad Logan was carted off the field after an apparent neck injury.
After play resumed, the Eagles faced a third-and-17 on their own 26. Jaquan Sinclair took the handoff and bounced to his left then cut up field and then outran the safety for a 74-yard TD run.
Up 14-0 Matt Nailor recovered a Tigers fumble at the Brentsville 25. Three plays later Martin Parker scored from 14 yards out. Forty five seconds separated the scores and LHS took a commanding 21-point lead, but the scoring was far from over.
Every member of Liberty’s rushing trinity had a score as Hogan racked up his second on 2-yard TD.
“Our running game is the strongest part of our offense because we are so versatile with it. Every back has their own trait,” said Hogan. “I’m the power back, when you need the extra yard I will get it for you. Martin is the speed back and Jaquan is the cut back.”
After a Tigers' three-and-out, Utterback took a punt, made a few guys miss and then followed his blocks en route to a 53-yard touchdown return.
Utterback’s returns gave the Eagles great field position all night but his biggest return added to their lead.
Finnerty praised his senior’s work on special teams. “We wanted him to do a few things back there and he listened to us,” said Finnerty. “He is a real dangerous kid with the ball in his hands.”
“I thank my team for getting me that punt return. The set up blocks and everything,” said Utterback.
With the Eagles up 35-0 at halftime, it almost seemed pointless to play a second half.
More points followed as Sinclair scored on a 25-yard interception return and quarterback connected with a wide open Chris Hill for 15-yard TD pass.
With the mercy rule in play and backups playing, both teams punted for the next four drives.
Liberty added a final TD, when Matt Nailor burst through and blocked a punt, which was recovered by the Eagles at the Brentsville 7-yard line, leading to sophomore Brent Smith's TD.
The scoring bonanza represented the Eagles' most dominant performance of the season.
“We had to get it done and we did. We executed a lot more tonight,” said Sinclair.
“It feels good. The last couple year’s homecoming hasn’t gone so well but there was no doubt about this one,” said Hogan.
Now 2-0 in Evergreen District play, the Eagles get back to reality with a home game against undefeated Eastern View (7-0, 2-0).
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