Photo by Jeff Yoder
Your Prep Sports
NORTH LIBERTY – The two-hour delay in starting Liberty’s game against Central DeWitt was due to heavy rain and lightning. But that was nothing compared to the jolt delivered by the Sabers in a 35-0 rout of the Lightning.
Liberty coach Jeff Gordon didn’t pull any punches after the disappointing performance.
“If it was easy it wouldn’t be worth anything,” Gordon said.
“A lot of times we focus on the highs, but what really defines us is how we handle things when they don’t go our way. As hard as it is tonight I hope this is a night that we can all remember in February and January when we want to sleep in and use this to motivate us and understand it’s not going to be easy.
“If we can learn from it then tonight will be very valuable, but if we try to shake it off and act like it doesn’t mean anything then I don’t know if we’re getting the full point of what competition is.”
The Sabers (4-3, 1-2) forced four first-half turnovers, three interceptions and a fumble, and Liberty (2-5, 0-3) gave up great field position a fifth time when a high snap was bobbled and the punter had to fall on the ball at the Lightning 12-yard line.
Gordon said the conditions didn’t contribute to the turnovers on the Lightning’s artificial turf field.
“The turnovers all start with me and our attention to detail in practice,” he said. “I actually prefer to play in weather like this. That comes from how we handle practice on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
“As much as tonight was hard on our team, it’s a good reflection of where we’re at right now, and we just have to own it. The only way we’re going to get better is not to deny it but to realize where we’re at and what it’s going to take to get better and focus on that.”
Four of the Sabers’ five scoring drives began in Liberty territory.
They used an effective running game with Easton Necker and Zachary Hinkle combining for 101 first-half yards.
Quarterback Drew Kueter completed 7-of-9 passes for 111 yards and one touchdown.
But it was the Central DeWitt defense that brought the thunder. Liberty was held without a first down until the final two minutes of the half and finished with just that one first down.
The Bolts rushed for just 23 first-half yards and did not complete a pass.
The 35-0 score triggered the continuous clock in the second half. Central DeWitt played reserves in the third quarter. The game was stopped with 5:02 left in the third quarter with more lightning and heavy rain. With more bad weather coming officials decided to call the game at that time.
Coming into the game it did not seem like a mismatch. Both teams lost to district heavyweight North Scott, their only common opponent, by similar margins.
The Sabers won three of their non-district games while Liberty won two of theirs.
But once the game started the Sabers scored on their first five possessions. Liberty’s offense never got farther than its own 45-yard line.
The Lightning got a couple bad breaks in the first quarter that might have delayed the inevitable if they hadn’t happened.
The bobbled and dropped punt snap came when the Lightning was trailing only 7-0. That gave the Sabers a quick touchdown two plays later.
On Liberty’s next possession Brian Lively went deep and was open behind the lone defender for what could have been a touchdown, but the pass was underthrown and intercepted.
Central DeWitt converted that miscue into a 48-yard TD drive and a 21-0 lead.
“We knew it would be a challenge,” Gordon said. “We knew they were a very good team and ran the ball well on everyone. We go into every game hoping to be successful, and we obviously didn’t do a good enough job this week preparing.”
Gordon dismissed any suggestion that the long wait to start the game affected his team.
“Both teams faced the same adversity tonight, and Central DeWitt did a good job with it,” he said. “We just have to get better. We’ve got to be better coaches and we have to get our players ready to play football.”
First downs 10 2
Rushing-yards 30-137 15-36
Comp-Att-Int 7-9-0 0-6-3
Passing-yards 111 0
Punts-avg. 2-29 2-31
Fumbles-lost 0-0 2-1
Penalties-yards 6-40 2-15
*Game called because of inclement weather with 5:02 left 3rd quarter.
CD – Easton Necker 2 run (Landon Peterson kick)
CD – Logan Paulsen 16 pass from Drew Kueter (Peterson kick)
CD – Devin Hurdle 27 run (Peterson kick)
CD – Necker 3 run (Peterson kick)
CD – Kueter 1 run (Peterson kick)
RUSHING – CD: Necker 17-59, Zach Hinkle 5-42, Devin Hurdle 1-27, Drew Kueter 2-4, Kaiden Mull 2-7, Jeff Fuller1-2, Team 2-(-4). ICL: Kaleb Williams 9-21, Jack Ankenbauer 2-16, Drake Woody 4-(-1).
PASSING – CD: Drew Kueter 7-9-0-137. ICL: Drake Woody 0-6-3-0.
RECEIVING – CD: Logan Paulsen 4-67, Devin Hurdle 1-25, Tucker Kinney 1-19, Zach Hinkle 1-0.
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