LIBERTY CENTER – Allen East marched down the field and scored to start the Division VI regional quarterfinal against Liberty Center Friday night.
The Tiger defense made sure it did not happen again.
Liberty Center matched the quick score, then added a few scores to post a 43-12 win over the Mustangs to advance to the regional semifinal.
“Nothing came easy, really,” said Liberty Center coach Casey Mohler. “We were very fortunate we had some short fields. Turnovers on defense and special teams got us going and got us in rhythm. I thought field position in that first half was key for us.”
After Allen East marched 66 yards in 13 plays, resulting in a five-yard touchdown pass from Bryce Belcher to Logan McCluer. The Mustangs went for two, but the run was stuffed.
“It never makes you feel real good,” Mohler said of the Mustangs’ opening drive. “They were pretty sharp to start the game. They converted some third downs on us.”
Liberty Center needed just six plays to match the score. On fourth-and-1 from the Allen East 33, Karter Kern bounced off a couple tacklers and found his way into the endzone for a score.
“We rebounded and got some of the momentum back,” Mohler said of answering the score. “I thought that was big.”
It started a run for the Tigers.
On the ensuing drive, Alex Righi scooped up a backward pass by Allen East and took it to the 18-yardline. After a 10-yard pass to Connor Keller, and a seven yard run from Zach Bowers, Camden Krugh was able to sneak the ball in from a yard out.
Righi had a hand on getting the ball for another quick Tiger score. He picked up the loose pigskin on the Allen East kickoff return, setting Liberty Center up at the 10-yardline. It took four plays to score, with Kern getting in from two yards out.
Righi added an interception and a pooch punt downed inside the 20 before halftime.
“Alex is a kid where you look at the stats, you won’t see his name much,” Mohler said of Righi. “That kid is a warrior. He is a kid we want in the program. He is the glue to this team. The things he does goes unnoticed but he is so valuable. You hold him up as an example to every other kid.”
Kern scored his third touchdown of the night, a three-yard run, to make the score 28-6 at the half.
“He just came out and did what he has to do,” Mohler said of the junior who scored three times. “We feel confident with him, Zach (Bowers) and Max (Phillips). It’s not like we call this play for this kid. We calls the plays and whoever happens to be in there happens to get the ball.”
Going back to power football, the Tigers took the second half kickoff and needed 12 plays to go 65 yards. This time, Bowers powered his way in from nine yards out to start the running clock. Allen East trimmed the lead inside the 30-point threshold when Belcher hit Cole Fletcher on a 14-yard throwback screen. Liberty Center ended the scoring with a Krugh to Trey Patterson 25-yard pass.
The Tigers will now face Archbold, the team they shared the NWOAL title with, next week in a regional semifinal at a site to be detirmined Sunday.
“We know what Archbold’s got and they are a great team,” Mohler said of the Bluestreaks.
First Downs 17 15
Rushing Yards 18-88 42-162
Passing Yards 183 110
Total Yards 271 272
Passing 20-35-2 8-11-0
Fumbles-Lost 2-2 2-1
Penalties 3-10 0-0
Allen East 6 0 0 6 – 12
Liberty Center 21 7 8 7 – 43
AE – McCluer 5-pass from Belcher (run failed).
LC – Kern 33-run (Killam kick).
LC – Krugh 1-run (Killam kick).
LC – Kern 2-run (Killam kick).
LC – Kern 3-run (Killam kick).
LC – Bowers 9-run (Phillips catch).
AE – Fletcher 14-pass from Belcher (pass failed).
LC – Patterson 25-pass from Krugh (Killam kick).
RUSHING: Allen East – Belcher 8-72; Neth 8-18; Fletcher 1-2; team 1-(-4). Liberty Center – Bowers 17-73; Kern 11-60; Phillips 9-31; Krugh 2-0; Righi 1-(-2). PASSING: Allen East – Belcher 20-34-183-2; Fletcher 0-1-0-0. Liberty Center – Krugh 8-11-110-0. RECEIVING: Allen East – McCluer 8-87; Fletcher 7-79; Crumrine 4-25; Neth 1-(-8). Liberty Center – Keller 4-45; Righi 2-30; Patterson 1-25; Shafer 1-10.