Hogan’s 70-yard TD run fuels Liberty’s 35-6 rout of Culpeper
--Photo By Doug Stroud
Entering Monday night, it was five years since Liberty last played Culpeper in football, a game the Eagles won 54-0 in 2008.
The Eagles are apparently glad to see the rivalry renewed as they extended their winning streak over the Blue Devils to seven with a much-needed 35-6 win at Broman Field.
While Culpeper (4-3) has been rejuvenated under first year coach Ken Wakefield, an equally revitalized Liberty defense was up to the task.
The Eagles (2-4) took control of the game early by picking off two passes, forcing two fumbles and essentially discombobulating the Culpeper offense, which was directed by sophomore quarterback Hunter Crim, who had a tough night.
Thanks to a 70-yard touchdown run by T.J. Hogan, Liberty took a 21-6 halftime lead and added a quick score by Aaron Walters early in the third quarter to put the game out of reach.
After losing badly to Sherando 45-23 on Oct. 4, the Eagles were off to their worst start since 1999. Now there’s talk of a revival. Liberty is expected to defeat Brentsville (0-7) Friday, setting up a brutal closing stretch of games against Kettle Run (4-2), Eastern View (6-0) and Fauquier (3-3).
Perform well down the stretch and Liberty would return to the playoffs.
“We’re ready. We know we’ve messed up. Now that district play is starting we want to go 5-0,” said Hogan.
“Our defense stepped up and played well,” said coach Sean Finnerty, who changed schemes after the 1-4 start.
Liberty nearly fell behind in the opening moments after an interception by Blue Devil Justin White, who ran it to the LHS 15. On second down, Crim completed an apparent 15-yard TD pass to White, but it was negated by penalty.
“If we go on and score there who knows what happens,” said Culpeper coach Wakefield.
The Eagles held Culpeper on fourth down, then took over and drove 80 yards to take a 7-0 lead on Jaquan Sinclair’s 20-yard TD run.
Liberty made it 14-0 on a 42-yard TD pass from quarterback Garrett Watts to Ian Vowels early in the second quarter. “I saw two players under Ian. Ian ran over the top of him,” said Watts.
It became 21-0 on Hogan’s long breakaway run.
“I knew their corners were fast. I ran as fast as I could,” said Hogan of his TD jaunt.
The game soon degenerated into a sloppy battle of self-inflicted turnovers as Hogan fumbled on his own 5-yard line right into the arms of Marcellus Green, who ran to the LHS 1. Green scored on a 1-yard TD run. After the Blue Devils failed on a two-point pass, LHS led 21-6.
It was one of three first half turnovers by the Eagles, who cleaned up their act with a turnover-free second half.
Wakefield said he wanted to test the Eagles’ maligned secondary, but Crim had a rough night. Plus, Culpeper was docked for six offsides penalties and ended up making just seven first downs.
“At the start of the game we made some mistakes,” said Wakefield. “It kills momentum, it kills drives.”
Although he threw two interceptions and didn’t have a great game percentage-wise, quarterback Watts later delivered a second precise TD throw to Vowels, a 25-yarder that closed out the scoring.
It was Liberty's first win since beating Orange on Sept. 6.
“Fresh start, fresh slate. We’re 1-0 right now,” said Watts.
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