By Ted Waddell
GRAHAMSVILLE It was the “Night of the Beast” as senior running back/linebacker Brandon “The Beast” Tompkins led the Liberty Indians to a 41-6 win over the host Tri-Valley Bears in Friday night’s Section IX Class C football game.
Tompkins racked up three touchdowns and ran for a two-point as the Indians recorded their first win of the season.
Liberty (1-3, 1-1 Class C), also ended the Bears’ hopes of winning two games in a row. T-V (1-3, 1-2 Class C) opened the season with a couple of losses before defeating Pine Plains on Sept. 18.
“It was a very, very tough loss,” T-V’s Peter DiMilia said. “We were pumped for the game. It was the biggest game of the year for us and we just blew it. It was a turning point; if we had beaten Liberty, we would have started rolling.
“We’ve got to work a lot harder in practice,” he added.
The Indians scored first as Tompkins rushed for a 7-yard TD into pay dirt with 4:09 remaining in the first quarter. Michael McLean caught the two-point conversion pass from quarterback Marshon Williams to give Liberty an 8-0 advantage.
At 2:35, Matt Bogorad put the home team on the scoreboard with a TD run. But the two-point conversion was called back on a holding penalty and Liberty still led, 8-6.
The Indians scored twice in the final 40 seconds of the opening quarter. Tompkins scampered 55 yards to paydirt and Eddie Soto had a 6-yard TD run. After Soto’s score, Tompkins ran for the two-point conversion to put the Indians up 22-6.
With 8:26 to go in the second quarter, McLean reeled in a 23-yard TD pass from Williams and the Indians enjoyed a 28-6 advantage at halftime.
With 8:28 remaining in the third quarter, Tompkins raced around the right for a 37-yard TD.
The Bears were forced to punt on their next possession. Liberty’s Paul Heisler surged through the line to block the punt, giving the Indians excellent field position.
Moments later, Liberty capitalized on the great special teams play. Williams ran for a 1-yard touchdown to give the Indians a 41-6 lead.
Tompkins paced the Liberty offense with 126 yards on eight carries. Soto and Akeem Granum each rushed seven times for 51 yards and Williams ran five times for 12 yards.
Tompkins also led the Indians’ defense with 12 tackles and an interception. Jovaughen Clark had six tackles, while McLean and Efrain Baez both had three tackles and picked off a pass. In addition to his blocked punt, Heisler had four tackles and a quarterback sack.
“Liberty came in with a lot of energy,” T-V Coach John Rusin said. “We made far too many mistakes which stalled a lot of drives and we didn’t tackle well enough.”
Brendan Moore was the Bears’ leading rusher with 105 yards on seven carries. DiMilia ran nine times for 94 yards and Greg Swarthout rushed 13 times for 72 yards. Brendan Tierney was T-V’s top tackler with 10.
Liberty Coach John Wilhelm summed up the game by talking about the season.
“We started out 0 and 3, but the kids have been working hard and we had a pretty good showing tonight,” he said. “Brandon [Tompkins] is a tough cookie.”
Nelson Saravia is a 17-year-old senior linebacker for the Indians.
“It’s our senior year, and it feels good,” he said of the team’s first win of the season.
Tompkins’ take on the season and the victory?
“In the beginning we had a little trouble with our offensive sets,” he said. “We’ve been together all year and after working so hard and seeing something good come out of it, it feels great. Now it’s time to move on.
“We all love each other, that’s what makes a team a team, [and] I enjoy every loss and every win,” Tompkins added.