Liberty’s defense stands tall to knock off Basic

Liberty’s football team has used an explosive offense to win its share of games during the past few seasons. When that offense did not materialize Thursday, the defense stepped up to lead the third-ranked Patriots to a 12-0 victory over visiting Basic.

Lonenoa Faoa completed 13 of 28 passes for 124 yards to lead Liberty, and teammate Kyle Beaudry rushed eight times for 48 yards and a touchdown. The win kept the Patriots tied for first place in the Southeast League with one league game remaining.

“Our defense was outstanding tonight,” said Patriots coach Rich Muraco, whose team held the 10th-ranked Wolves to 59 offensive yards. “I’ll put our defense against anyone in the state. I told them at halftime that defense sometimes has to win games, and they came through.”

Neither team had much success moving the ball in the first half, though the Patriots (4-4, 3-1 Southeast) had opportunities. Several dropped passes and penalties resulted in a 6-0 Liberty lead at halftime, thanks to field goals of 41 and 37 yards by Dillon Fedor.

Muraco said the pregame senior night ceremony may have adversely affected his offense.

“They just didn’t come out excited the way they needed to in the first half,” Muraco said. “The senior night festivities may have thrown off our rhythm, and Basic definitely came to play.”

Though Liberty committed several more costly mistakes in the second half, Beaudry had six key runs to keep the offense moving. His 2-yard touchdown run to start the fourth quarter capped a 12-play drive to give the Patriots a more comfortable lead, despite a failed 2-point conversion attempt.

“He’s a really good running back,” Muraco said of Beaudry. “We pick spots for him, and he’s a smart, tough runner.”

A late interception gave the Wolves a chance to score, but a potential touchdown pass was dropped in the end zone, and the drive ultimately fizzled when Paul Myro’s fourth-down pass was intercepted.

Maurice Hampton had 41 yards on three receptions to help Basic (4-5, 2-2), and Dorian McAllister led Basic with 42 yards on seven carries.

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