Sherando’s Entsminger accounts for 7 TDs in 45-23 rout of Liberty
--Photo By Rick Wasser
The Liberty defense continues to wear a “Kick me” sign on the back of its collective uniform.
The latest indignity was inflicted by Sherando, which won 45-23 Friday in Bealeton, dropping Liberty’s record to an uncharacteristic 1-4 heading into next Friday’s game at Culpeper.
Except for a 51-10 win over Orange, the Eagles have allowed opponents Handley, Mountain View, Broad Run and Sherando to score a whopping 181 points, or 45.2 points a game.
“There’s nothing we can do but put a better product on the field next week,” said Eagle coach Sean Finnerty. “Stopping the pass has been a huge problem. We look lost.”
Sherando quarterback Reid Entsminger had the game of his life, completing 15 of 18 passes for 338 yards and five touchdowns, and running for two more.
Entsminger accounted for all seven Warrior touchdowns as the visitors from Stephens City scored TDs on three of four first half possessions, then kept the pace up by scoring TDs on four of their first five second half possessions.
Until their final possession (when they took a knee), the Warriors (5-1) continued to pass against the Eagles with a three-touchdown lead. Entsminger did not apologize for that, calling Liberty an arch rival. “They hold a special spot in our heart. They ended our season last year. We did not want to let up at all,” said Entsminger, who said he is being recruited by Lamar University in Texas.
In the aftermath of another ugly loss, Finnerty promised personnel changes to the Eagle defense, specifically calling the secondary the area of biggest need. “Changes need to be made on our defense. They will be made,” he said.
One of the most galling stats of the night for Liberty was Sherando’s ability to constantly convert key third and fourth downs, and to burn the Eagles deep on seam routes.
“We put them in third and long, and every third down they converted,” said Finnerty, who also saw the Warriors convert two big fourth down conversions as well, including a 1-yard TD run by Entsminger that gave Sherando a 13-3 lead.
Junior receiver Adam Whitacre had TD receptions of 82 and 42 yards, and freshman receiver Dylan Rivers had TD receptions of 35 and 18 yards.
“Reid put it in the best place possible,” said Whitacre of his second TD catch.
Liberty began the game with a promising drive, moving 50 yards to the Sherando 16, where Tommy Smith drilled a 33-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead.
The Liberty offense was then shut down for almost three quarters as the Warriors stormed to a 33-3 lead.
“We tried to establish run so it was effective when we attacked downfield,” said Sherando coach Bill Hall, who noted Liberty’s defense did seem exploitable with the alignment the Eagles employed. “They used one high safety on our down seam,” noted Hall, who watched the route pay dividends all night.
“I made a lot of mistakes on play action,” said Garrett Utterback, who played safety.
“There’s a hurting feeling,” said quarterback Garrett Watts, who is generally one of the most upbeat Eagles. “There’s a lot of disappointment and a little shock. We thought we had them (after beating them in the playoffs last year).”
It didn't help Liberty that Entsminger was uncannily accurate.
Last year’s playoff loss to LHS was hard for Entsminger to swallow, the star senior said. “I was out with a broken collarbone but the next week I would have been cleared to play, and they took us out,” he said.
If there was a silver lining for Liberty, it was that all four losses have come to strong foes, and the players spoke confidently of being able to right the ship.
“We need to fix our mistakes next week and keep our spirits up,” said Watts.
“We’ve shown at times we’re as good as some of those 5A teams (Mountain View and Broad Run). I have all the confidence in the world in these kids,” said Finnerty.
The Eagles put up three fourth quarter touchdowns, making the game seem more competitive.
Sophomore Aaron Walters caught a 43-yard pass from Watts, T.J. Hogan scored on a 5-yard run, and Utterback caught a 10-yard pass form Watts to close the scoring with 3:20 left.
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