By Lori Brown
LIBERTY October 10, 2006 Both the Livingston Manor/Roscoe Devilcats and host Liberty Indians entered Saturday’s non-league football game with no wins this gridiron season.
At the end of the contest, the Liberty players, coaches and fans were celebrating a 40-14 victory over the Devilcats.
The Indians’ gained 403 rushing yards to post their first win since the 2004 season. Leading the Liberty offense were Marcus Hunter, who had nine carries for 148 yards and two touchdowns, and Troy Bertholf, who gained 115 yards on seven carries and scored a TD.
During the first half of the game both teams were pretty equal.
Liberty quarterback Andre Brand ran the ball in to score the first touchdown of the game.
Trevor Tompkins scored a 2-point conversion and to give Liberty (1-5) an 8-0 advantage.
On the next LMR possession, quarterback Tyler Schmidt threw the ball to Mike Hendrickson to gain 20 yards and a first down.
After a few plays, Schmidt handed off to Kelly Lackey, who ran for a first down to the Liberty 24-yard line.
That set up the Devilcats’ first touchdown, as Schmidt connected with Hendrickson on a scoring strike.
Lackey successfully ran for the 2-point conversion to tie the contest at 8-8 with less than a minute remaining in the first quarter.
Liberty came back on to the field motivated as the second quarter began. Hunter took a handoff from Brand and ran approximately 25 yards to give the Indians a first down.
Moments later, LMR defender Troy Edwards blocked two of Brand’s passes, which helped to stop the Indians’ drive at the Devilcats’ 18-yard line.
But LMR (0-6) was not able to gain 10 yards for a first down and was forced to punt.
Hunter fielded the punt and ran to the LMR 27.
Brand gave the ball to Trevor Tompkins, who gained yards, but not enough for a first down. So the quarterback ran the ball himself on the next play to make a first down.
Hunter then scored on a 9-yard run with four minutes remaining in the half.
Lackey blocked the extra-point kick, but Liberty still had a 14-8 lead.
On the subsequent Devilcats’ possession, Schmidt completed passes to Hendrickson and Justin Mendez to gain yards. After some incomplete passes, Schmidt threw the ball to Hendrickson for a first down with 22 seconds left on the clock.
On first-and-goal at the Liberty 2 yard line, Lackey ran to the end zone to score the tying TD with 19 seconds remaining until halftime. LMR was unsuccessful with the 2-point conversion and the score remained knotted at 14-14.
On the first play after the Indians regained possession, Schmidt made an interception to give the Devilcats the ball with only five seconds showing on the scoreboard clock.
LMR could not score in those final seconds and the teams entered halftime still tied at 14-14.
Liberty took the lead for good when Trevor Tompkins reached the end zone on a 52-yard run with 6:05 remaining in the third quarter. The 2-point attempt was unsuccessful, so the Indians held a 20-14 advantage.
LMR again had a hard time gaining any yards against the determined Indians’ defense and had to punt the ball.
Brand pitched the ball to Hunter and in turn he ran to score a touchdown only two minutes after the last touchdown. Hunter was able to get to the end zone for the 2-point conversion, giving Liberty a 28-14 advantage.
The Indians’ D again prevented the Devilcats from gaining many yards.
Liberty began its next drive at the LMR 24. On first down, Brand pitched the ball to Bertholf, who scampered to the end zone. Bertholf’s TD pushed the Indians’ lead to 34-14 with only 1:20 left in the quarter.
LMR had possession of the ball in the beginning of the fourth quarter, but was stopped again by the Liberty defense.
On their subsequent possession, the Indians moved downfield quickly under the direction of new quarterback Joseph Ruiz.
Branden Tompkins scored the final touchdown of the afternoon.
LMR’s Nathan Brock blocked Liberty’s PAT kick, which left the score at 40-14 with seven minutes remaining.
Pacing the potent Liberty defense were Branden Tompkins and Ruiz, each of whom recorded seven tackles, and Jon Martinez, who had a fumble recovery.
“The first half was a very close game, but during the second half, Liberty took control of the line of scrimmage,” LMR Co-Coach Fred Ahart said.
“I give them a lot of credit, they did a good job. They had a lot of momentum and they had good opportunities during the second half to make good plays,” he added.
“We have to start fresh with [our] division games next week.”
Lackey led the Devilcats’ ground attack by carrying the ball 27 times for 109 yards, including his TD run.
Schmidt completed nine passes for 122 yards and one touchdown. Hendrickson caught six passes for 74 yards, Justin Mendez caught one for 23, and Seth Darbee caught two for 25.
“This is our first win of the season. Both teams were motivated and had no wins, so someone had to come out on top,” Liberty Coach Jim O’Connor said.
He could not emphasize enough how much he looked up to Ahart, one of the area’s veteran gridiron coaches.
“It’s hard because some of his players are new to the sport of football,” O’Connor commented.
O’Connor noted that the Liberty varsity football program “was not in existence for three years.
“I encourage both communities to invest in a youth football league,” he said. “All other teams start off early and have football programs for the youth.”
He said that it is very important to have the players start competing on the football field at a young age and work their way up to the varsity level.