Liberty football coach Rich Muraco knew his second-ranked team would have to fight for a win Friday, but he didn’t realize just how hard.
The Patriots struggled to shake Basic early, but they used a big third quarter to earn a 63-42 home victory.
Tyler Newman completed 27 of 35 pass attempts for 414 yards and five touchdowns to lead the Patriots, which racked up 677 yards of total offense.
The teams traded touchdowns in the opening minutes, and then Basic took a 21-14 lead on a 9-yard pass from Antraye Johnson to David Garza with 5:18 left in the second quarter.
Muraco said his team struggled to contain Johnson.
“We knew he was an amazing player,” Muraco said. “We tried to design a scheme to stop him, but he took advantage of us early on. At halftime we made some adjustments.”
After going into the half tied at 28, the Patriots (6-3, 3-0) pulled away with a couple TD passes from Newman to Deseon McQuaig and Jarvis Polu, and an 86-yard run by Calvin Tubbs.
At that point, Liberty had a 49-28 lead with 5:36 left in the third.
“I thought we played well in the third quarter,” Muraco said. “And luckily, our defense made some stops when it counted.”
Though Liberty’s defense gave up 487 yards, the Patriots forced five turnovers that resulted in 35 points.
Jon Scoffield, who carried 12 times for 142 yards, scored his second TD of the night on a 10-yard run to cut Basic’s deficit to 49-35 with 1:51 left in the third, but Liberty answered a minute later with a 65-yard scoring run by Ethan Tuilagi.
Tubbs, who finished with 110 yards on three carries, tacked on a 17-yard TD run early in the fourth quarter to seal the victory.
Chris Reed caught six passes for 108 yards, and McQuaig caught six passes for 88 yards and two TDs to help Liberty.
Johnson carried 22 times for 144 yards and two TDs to lead Basic (3-5, 2-2), and he also completed 10 of 21 passes for 187 yards and two more scores.