For the first half of its game Friday night, Liberty didn’t look like the second-ranked team in Southern Nevada.
It didn’t even look like a playoff contender.
Eleven points, seven penalties, an interception and a handful of miscues left the offense out of sorts.
Coach Rich Muraco said it was his fault, while his sophomore quarterback Kenyon Oblad took the blame.
Either or, the two addressed the situation at halftime and corrected the problems as the Patriots came away with a 39-0 rout of host Canyon Springs.
“We’ve had kids battling injuries, they haven’t been practicing and they just show up to play for games, and that’s really messing with the timing with our plays,” Muraco said. “It’s something we have to fix because we can’t come out slow against good teams.”
Said Oblad: “The way we started out was my fault. I was making the wrong reads. Everybody else was doing their jobs and I wasn’t getting the job done.”
It wasn’t until late in the third quarter, when the Patriots finally started clicking on their second drive of the second half. Oblad hit Gavin Caci on a short route for a 7-yard gain, then scampered 6 yards on a quarterback keeper.
After fullback Calvin Tubbs bulldozed the Patriots into Canyon Springs territory with a 20-yard carry, Stephon Stowers went 31 yards with 4 minutes, 40 seconds left in the third quarter to give Liberty a 17-0 lead.
Liberty’s defense forced a three-and-out on the Pioneer’s next possession, and on the first play from scrimmage, Oblad threw a 70-yard pass to Ethan Dedeaux to push the Patriots’ advantage to 25-0.
Two plays later, Liberty’s Nick Moniz scooped up a Pioneers fumble and raced 15 yards for a touchdown just before the end of the third quarter, giving the Patriots a commanding 31-0 lead, while silencing Canyon Springs’ homecoming crowd.
“I told them if we believe we’re a state championship caliber team then we have to execute better and we can’t make those kinds of mistakes and we can’t not come out with intensity,” Muraco said. “I can usually tell at the beginning of the game if we’re on or if we’re off. And we didn’t seem as fired up as usual.”
Oblad completed 12 of his 25 passes for 207 yards, while he ran for 51 yards. Darius Acohido ran for 85 yards on nine carries, with one TD, while Calvin Tubbs added a touchdown for Liberty (5-1, 1-0 Northeast League).
“The way we came together was really me just getting the ball to the playmakers,” Oblad said. “The line did its job, like it always does. It’s everyone else that makes my job easier on me. When you have receivers like we do – ones who outrun defenders and run perfect routes – I get comfortable much easier when I’m on the field. All the credit goes to them.”
The Patriots racked up 511 yards on offense, while their defense stymied Canyon Springs (2-4, 0-1) to just 42 yards.