Eagles destroy Orange County, 51-10
Liberty running back Jaquan Sinclair ran for three touchdowns Friday during a 51-10 victory over Orange. --Photo By Adam Goings
Last week they were devastated.
This week they did the devastating.
Dominant from their opening drive, the Liberty Eagles scored less than two minutes into Friday’s game against host Orange County, and were never bothered in a masterful muscle-flexing 51-10 rout of the Hornets.
After blowing a 42-21 lead in a season-opening 45-42 loss to Handley on Saturday Aug. 31, the Eagles (1-1) displayed the same offensive firepower and never came close to faltering in their second game.
“I’m proud that we played four quarters. That was the difference,” said coach Sean Finnerty. “We only played two-and-a-half last week.”
Liberty scored on eight of their 11 possessions, led 35-10 at halftime and took the steam out of Orange’s debut under first-year coach
Keita Malloy, a former Old Dominion University assistant coach who is trying to rebuild his school’s program after a 1-9 campaign.
“We knew their size would be an issue for us,” said Malloy about the Eagles.
The entire Liberty offense took turns in the spotlight:
-Liberty quarterback Garrett Watts completed 10-of-15 passes for 210 yards and three touchdowns. Watts was 8-of-12 for 147 yards and two TDs in the first half.
-Jaquan Sinclair ran for three touchdowns, including an 80-yarder early in the third quarter and also scored on runs of 5 and 6 yards.
-Receiver Garrett Utterback caught a 22-yard TD pass from Watts and was a star on punt returns.
-Other LHS touchdowns were scored by T.J. Hogan (5-yard run), Rodman Munson (14-yard pass reception) and Sean Carter (26-yard score off shovel pass from Watts).
Finnerty said the game plan was to integrate more vertical passing routes after using more conservative horizontal routes in the Handley loss. He also praised the Eagle running back crew of Sinclair, Hogan and Martin Parker.
"We've used three running backs the first two weeks. We're pretty happy with it," said Finnerty, who has also used bruising Sean Carter as a fourth option. Carter has a TD in each of the first two games.
Another positive has been the play of Watts, who is distinguishing himself as Liberty’s most capable quarterback in recent years. He showed an ability to buy time in the pocket and then deliver accurate downfield strikes on numerous occasions.
“I feel great, it’s just like the playbook,” said Watts, a confident customer who is pleased to be the Eagles’ new field general.
He missed much of the preseason with a cut on his toe.
“It wasn’t as bad as everyone said it was,” said a beaming Watts about his injury after the game.
When pressed about the injury, which did require 16 stitches, Watts admitted, “I can feel it.”
But after a win like that none of the Eagles were in any pain.
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