For four years, Liberty had consistency at quarterback in the form of Kenyon Oblad, who is now at UNLV.
It’s taken the Patriots just two games to find out how different life will be without him. Their new starter Noah Faoa was injured in the second quarter of the team’s 21-10 home loss to Lone Peak (Utah) on Friday and the team’s backups struggled in his stead.
Liberty turned the ball over four times in the loss and was held to just 125 yards on offense.
“We struggled when Noah went down,” coach Rich Muraco said. “That’s probably on my shoulders for not preparing the backup QBs enough.”
The Patriots scored three points on offense as their only touchdown of the game came on a fumble return in the first quarter. Lone Peak had a high snap on a punt and senior defensive lineman Luke Toomalatai picked the ball up near the 20-yard line and sprinted 20 yards to pay dirt.
Liberty’s only other score was a field goal in the third quarter that gave it a 10-7 lead. The Knights’ defense keyed in on a one-dimensional offense that generated 29 passing yards.
“It’s tough. You have a backup plan. We just weren’t able to execute it,” Muraco said. “Your starter is maybe getting 75 percent of the reps in practice and against this defense, with the pressure that they brought, it wasn’t enough for our twos and threes.”
The Patriots’ defense tried its best to keep the game close and held Lone Peak to 166 yards of offense. But the Knights got a rushing touchdowns from senior running back Masen Wake in the first and fourth quarters, and a passing touchdown from senior quarterback Braden Siri in the third to pull away.
Sophomore Zyrus Fiaseu shined for Liberty in defeat.
He picked off two passes on defense, gained 75 yards on seven carries and handled punting duties.
“He’s a stud, man. The kid’s unbelievable,” Muraco said. “The biggest thing with him early in the season is getting him in shape. It’s hard when you play both ways and on every special team. We kind of have to pick and choose our spots when we can give him the ball offensively.”
Coronado 36, Spring Valley 14 — At Spring Valley, the Cougars gained 287 yards as a team on 34 carries, highlighted by a Semaj Bolin 62-yard score in which he bounced off a tackler and outran the rest of the defense to give his team a lead they would hold on to for the rest of the game.
The Cougars (2-1) featured seven ball carriers, led by Bolin with 86 yards on four carries. Andrew Montez had nine carries for 64 yards and two touchdowns for the Cougars, and Matt Orlando carried nine times for 77 yards and a touchdown. Teammate Vinny Gelsone ran seven times for 29 yards and a touchdown.
The Cougar defense also made the trip from Henderson and wasn’t overshadowed. They intercepted two passes in scoring territory which directly translated to 14 points. Spring Valley tried to find success on the ground, rushing 47 times, but the Cougars didn’t budge and held the Grizzlies to just 4.0 yards per carry, with a long of 13 yards.
Special teams also got involved in the win. With time expiring in the first half Coronado kicker Gavin Wale drilled a 45-yard line drive field goal.
Spring Valley (0-2) hung around for three quarters but was only in control of the game for a brief moment in the first quarter when Frank Bartley returned a kick 85-yards for a touchdown to give the Grizzlies a 7-6 lead after Coronado scored on its opening drive. The Grizzlies had a chance to stay in the game down 19-7 in the second quarter but a 17-yard loss killed a promising drive. Spring Valley committed 13 penalties.
Spring Valley quarterback Mason DeCunzo carried 23 times for 113 yards, and was the game’s leading rusher. Bartley scored both his team’s touchdowns, adding a 1-yard score in the third quarter.
Cheyenne 48, Rancho 0 — At Cheyenne, Majae Madison ran for two touchdowns as the Desert Shields routed the Rams.
Cheyenne (3-0) delivered one big offensive play after another and never punted in the game.
Joshua Rose got things going when he found Tayjon Bullock for a 20-yard touchdown pass to finish the game’s opening drive. The senior was 5 of 9 passing for 87 yards.
However, it was the ground game and defense which propelled the Desert Shields quickly past Rancho (1-2).
Madison had only seven carries, but two were touchdown runs of 40 and 33 yards. Luis Horna added a 32-yard TD run and finished with 58 yards on six carries. Javier Cone, a reserve running back, broke off an 87-yard scoring run late in the third quarter.
Cheyenne also scored on a lateral-pass play with Rose tossing a lateral to tight end Mike Reed near the left sideline before Reed launched the ball to a wide-open Rayvion Brown for a 50-yard touchdown.
Defensively, Cheyenne easily handled Rancho’s double-wing rushing attack, limiting the Rams to 69 yards on 36 attempts.
The Rams ended a 19-game skid with a 30-7 win over Western last week.
Desert Oasis 62, Western 7 — At Western, Christian Vaughn led a dominant rushing attack as the Diamondbacks totaled 545 yards of total offense, including a whopping 379 on the ground, in the win over the Warriors.
Vaughn finished with four touchdowns, scoring on runs of 2, 4, 32 and 67 yards. The junior led all rushers with 202 yards on 14 carries. Alvin Pomare added 100 yards two scores on nine carries, and junior quarterback Colton Zobrist threw for 166 yards and a touchdown and added 27-yard rushing TD.
The Diamondbacks scored 34 unanswered points to race out to big first-half lead. In fact, the visitors had 12 plays of 20 yards or more.
Western erased the shutout bid with an 86-yard touchdown run by senior quarterback Hahsaun Blackburn late in the second quarter. Blackburn ran for 88 yards and threw for 161 before having to leave the game with an injury on the last play of the opening half.
Boulder City 23, Democracy Prep 8 — At Rancho, running back Thorston Balmer rushed for 214 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Eagles over the Blue Knights.
The Eagles (2-1) scored 17 points during a three-minute span of the first quarter to take immediate control of the game. The scoring barrage began on Democracy Prep’s first offensive play of the game when Blue Knights quarterback Micah Gayman was tackled for a safety by Gino Carroll.
Two plays later, Balmer scored his first touchdown on a 58-yard run to give the Eagles a 9-0 lead.
Democracy Prep (1-2) was unable to move the ball on its next possession which allowed the Eagles to gain excellent field position. Quarterback Parker Reynolds took advantage of the short field by connecting with Matt Morton on a 14-yard touchdown pass. Reynolds’ 2-point conversion extended the score to 17-0, which was the score at halftime.
Balmer added a 28-yard touchdown run to make it 23-0.
The Blue Knights got on the board with a 65-yard catch and run touchdown by running back Amar Smith midway through the fourth quarter.
The Meadows 42, GV Christian 28 — At The Meadows, The Mustangs (1-1) scored in nearly every fashion, scoring touchdowns on a kick return, a blocked punt, through the air and on the ground, as they knocked off the Guardians.
Trey Covell had a pair of touchdown runs for the Mustangs, including a 24-yard run to open the scoring.
Blake Collier then returned a blocked punt a yard for a score and the Mustangs were up 12-0 with 7:16 to go in the first quarter.
The Guardians (0-2) got on the board with a 30-yard scoring pass from Collin Killoran to Clayton Suiter, but Michael Corrigan helped the Mustangs push the lead to 28-8 with a 1-yard quarterback sneak and an 11-yard scoring pass to Matthew Aaron.
Talon Smith caught a 32-yard TD pass from Killoran and had a 1-yard scoring run, and Suiter added a 45-yard TD catch from Killoran for GV Christian.
Orem (Utah) 41, Canyon Springs 14 — At Orem, Utah, the Tigers scored four first-quarter touchdowns and rolled past the Pioneers (0-1).
Puka Nacua, the younger brother of former Liberty star Kai Nacua, caught a 26-yard touchdown pass from Cooper Legas with 10:20 to go in the first quarter, and the rout was on from there.
Cooper threw two more touchdown passes in the first half, and Noah Sewell had a pair of first-half rushing TDs as the Tigers (2-1) took a 41-0 halftime lead.
Moapa Valley 42, Valley 6 — At Overton, Braeden St. John rushed for four touchdowns as the Pirates routed the Vikings.
St. John rushed for 72 yards on 17 carries, including TD runs of 5 yards, 1 yard, 10 yards and 1 yard.
Hayden Redd rushed for 59 yards on nine carries, and Trystin Lehman had 50 yards and a touchdown on six carries for the Pirates (2-1).
Jarrett Zibert had a 4-yard rushing touchdown for Valley (0-3).
Pahrump Valley 42, Sunrise Mountain 14 — At Pahrump, Niko Velazquez ran for a score and threw a touchdown pass Friday to lead the Trojans over the Miners (0-2).
Velazquez rushed for 109 yards on 14 carries. Casey Flennory rushed for 94 yards and a touchdown and had two touchdown receptions for the Trojans (1-2).
Anthony Peralta led the Pahrump defense with 12 tackles.
Virgin Valley 32, Del Sol 26 — At Mesquite, Wyatt Delano scored five touchdowns to lead the Bulldogs over the Dragons (1-2).
Delano rushed for 144 yards and three touchdowns on 28 carries. He also caught a pair of TD passes from Meb Hollingshead.
Hollingshead completed 10 of 18 passes for 172 yards and two scores. He also had 10 carries for 76 yards.
Rudy Cannon recorded nine tackles and a sack to lead the Bulldogs (3-0) defensively.
Lincoln County 46, White Pine 15 — At Ely, Noah Smith rushed for 121 yards and two touchdowns on just eight carries as the Lynx beat the Bobcats (0-2).
Smith had touchdown runs of 30 and 10 yards for Lincoln County, which totaled 318 yards on the ground. Smith also had five tackles and two sacks.
Kamdon Lewis added 91 rushing yards and two touchdowns, and Mason Thornock had a pair of rushing scores for the Lynx (2-0).
Thornock also intercepted a pass and caught a 66-yard touchdown pass from Cody Zile.
Pahranagat Valley 72, Independence 20 — At Elko, Reece Thornton rushed for 131 yards and three touchdowns on just seven carries to lead the Panthers over the Colts (0-1).
Thornton had TD runs of 5, 15 and 38 yards for the Panthers (1-0), who scored 36 points in the first quarter.
Preston Higbee, Jaren Leavitt and John Hansen added rushing touchdowns for Pahranagat Valley. Higbee also completed 5 of 10 passes for 120 yards. He threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Stockton Maxwell, and a 35-yard scoring pass to Nick Acosta.
Jesse Jones returned the opening kick 85 yards for a touchdown, and John Hansen had a 60-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter for the Panthers.
Laughlin 48, Indian Springs 6 — At Laughlin, the Cougars (2-0)scored 40 points in the first quarter and rolled past the Thunderbirds (0-1).