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Liberty offense, defense overwhelms Handley, 35-0

Saturday, Aug. 30 | By Grant Thomas

Photo By Doug Stroud
Liberty RB Martin Parker ran for 126 yards and a touchdown during Liberty's 35-0 win over John Handley.
You can’t open a season any better than winning by 35 points at home against a rival that you weren't sure you were going to beat at all.

The Liberty Eagles made it clear that they had Handley's number early Friday night, and never let up, scoring five answered touchdowns en route to a convincing 35-0 victory against the Judges.

The Eagles constantly drove down the field without challenge, scoring four of their five touchdowns in the first half. Liberty dissected the Handley defense with ease using their strong two-man running duo of Martin Parker and TJ Hogan (41 attempts, 365 total yards).

The Handley offense, on the other hand, couldn’t seem to get a first down, accumulating five straight 3-and-outs in the first two quarters. Meanwhile, the Eagles scored on three straight drives.

“Our offense was simply not there,” Handley head coach Tony Rayburn said. “[Liberty] has such an experienced defense. All we can do is go back to practice and work harder.”

The Eagles set the tone three minutes into the first quarter on a 42-yard option run by QB Aaron Walters.

“I wanted to set the tempo, get the football, and get the first score on the board, “ Liberty head coach Sean Finnerty said about the fast start by his Eagles. “We did, and that showed what we were going to be about tonight, and it worked out. “

With just 6.7 seconds to go in the first quarter, the Eagles put another touchdown on the board when Walters aired it out for receiver Anthony Spagnoletti for the 73-yard score. The long touchdown pass was one out of only six total passes on the night for the Eagles.

“When I came to the line, I knew the matchup and I knew I was going to beat him,” Spagnoletti recalled. “There was no safety up top, so when I got into the open, Aaron threw a perfect ball.”

The Eagle onslaught didn’t stop there. Two long touchdown runs by Martin Parker and Brent Smith in the second quarter put the Eagles up 28-0 at the half.

The second half saw the Handley offense come alive with two long drives that each got within 10 yards of the end zone, but both were stopped by goal line stands by the Liberty defense.

“That wasn’t us out there tonight,” Handley receiver Dustin Cutter said. “We are better than how we played. We will go back and practice and come out and play better next week.”

Box Score

Handley 0 0 0 0 -- 0

LHS 14 14 0 7 – 35

1st Quarter
LHS: Aaron Walters 42 run (Tommy Smith kick), 9:22
LHS: Anthony Spagnoletti 73 pass from Walters (Smith kick), :00

2nd Quarter
LHS: Martin Parker 44 run (Smith kick), 9:01
LHS: Brent Smith 29 run (T. Smith kick, 4:54

4th Quarter
LHS: Walters 2 run (Smith kick), 5:54

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