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Defense dominates as Liberty rolls past Coronado

Liberty’s football team struggled to find a rhythm on offense at the start of Friday night’s Class 4A Southeast League game at Coronado High.

But the defense picked up the slack, suffocating the Cougars and putting points on the board.

Coronado was held to just 16 yards of total offense, while Liberty eventually got rolling and racked up 433 yards on the way to seizing a 43-3 victory.

Liberty coach Rich Muraco said overall he was satisfied with his team’s workman-like outing.

“I was happy with the way everybody got in and played tonight,” he said. “Anytime you get a chance to get a lot of kids in to get reps, it makes your program better overall. I felt that it wasn’t necessarily our best effort. But it was a good game overall.”

Quarterback Kenyon Oblad, the state record holder for career passing yards, got off to a slow start in the first quarter for Liberty (6-1, 3-0 Southeast), connecting on just 2 of his first 7 passes.

But the Patriots’ defense made up for it.

With just under 3 minutes left in the first quarter, Allan Mwata grabbed an interception at the Liberty 35, then while being tackled, lateraled the ball back to Jake Dedeaux at the 31.

Dedeaux reversed field, then raced 69 yards to the endzone to make it 10-0 with 2:31 left in the quarter.

“They are playmakers. We are blessed to have a lot of great athletes,” Muraco said of his defenders. “They only play one side of the ball. I feel fortunate I can keep them on one side of the ball. But at a lot of other schools, they would be offensive stars as well.”

Liberty’s offensive stars got rolling in the second quarter behind Oblad.

Oblad lofted an 8-yard TD pass to Marquez Powell on the right side of the end zone to make it 17-0 with 7:04 left in the second quarter.

After Coronado (2-5, 0-3) got on the board with a field goal with 1:16 left before halftime, Oblad engineered a tidy eight-play, 80-yard drive — capped by his 13-yard scramble to the end zone — to make it 25-3 with 17 seconds left before the half.

Oblad finished with 160 yards on 16-for-23 passing, and added 33 rushing yards.

Zyrus Fiaseu powered the ground game for the Patriots, rushing 12 times for 95 yards and a score.

Fiaseau, a freshman, was impressive in showing speed and power in breaking tackles in just his third game as a starter.

“I am more comfortable now,” said Fiaseau, who had a 13-yard scoring run in the third quarter. “The speed is way different (on the varsity), but as the game goes on, I catch on.”

Muraco said the Patriots are making the progress they need to make while they navigate through league play.

“We are right where we want to be,” Muraco said. “You want to be in position to win the division. I think we may have clinched a playoff berth tonight, and those are two of our goals. We really do just want to get better every game and peak at the right time.”

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