By Ted Waddell
LIBERTY September 25, 2007 It was a case of good news/bad news on Thursday afternoon for the Liberty Indians.
First the good news for the home team. Liberty (3-1) defeated the Spartans of Spackenkill, 42-6, in a Section IX Class B football game.
Now the bad news. Nothing raises a coach’s hackles like watching a touchdown get called back on a holding penalty, and Liberty Coach Jim O’Connor was virtually foaming at the mouth as three Indians’ touchdowns were negated by yellow flags during the course of the hot afternoon.
And this came on the heels of the Indians squeaking by Eldred, 15-14, a couple of weeks ago even though two TDs were called back by one of the guys in the striped shirts catching somebody on the offensive line holding.
In two games that’s five touchdowns down the drain, or in numerical terms, 30 points.
In other words, enough to make a coach fume.
The Indians opened their scoring attack in Thursday’s game in the first quarter on a 12-yard scamper into the end zone by Ryan VanLieu. The PAT kick came up short.
As the seconds ticked away in the first quarter, Liberty’s Trevor Tompkins scored a TD, but it was called back for offensive holding.
A bit later, Tompkins got a little payback as he punted into end zone setting up a first-and-10 for Spackenkill (0-4, 0-2 Class B) at its own 20-yard line.
In the second quarter, in the wake of the home team recovering a Spackenkill fumble and following a pass completion down to the 6-yard line, Liberty (3-1, 1-1 Class B) scored a touchdown. But it was called back for offensive holding.
As the clock wound down in the quarter, Liberty quarterback Joseph Ruiz connected with Justin Katz for a 11-yard touchdown.
A two-point conversion pass to Justen Mills on a fake PAT kick by Trevor Tompkins made it a 14-0 contest at the half.
On the Indians’ first possession in the second half, Tompkins took it up the middle, and his PAT kick put Liberty up 21-0.
Tompkins, who is known to teammates and coaches as “Tank,” struck again just moments later. Liberty defender Abi Rubio intercepted a Spartans’ pass, which set up a first down at Spackenkill’s 32-yard line. A couple of snaps later, Rubio blasted into paydirt from seven yards out. Tompkins’ kick made it a 28-0 ballgame.
At 10:42 in the fourth quarter, Spackenkill got on the scoreboard with a 4-yard TD run by Shawn Ganz.
On a re-kick of the ensuing kickoff, Dustin VanLieu, after getting hung up in the middle, escaped around to the left and ran it back 79 yards for a TD. The PAT kick was wide to the right, but the Indians were up 34-6.
Tompkins kickoff sailed into the end zone for a touchback, and a couple of plays later the Spartans QB was sacked for a loss of 8 yards.
Dustin VanLieu hauled in the subsequent Spartans’ punt and took it down the right side of the field for a score. But it was negated for an illegal block in the backfield.
With 3:01 left on the game clock, the ball squirted away from Liberty’s Steven Hewlett in the end zone but he landed on it for a TD.
A two-point conversion run by Ruiz closed out the scoring at 42-6.
Spackenkill QB Matthew Perez completed a long pass to Mark Letus for a good gain, but then the Liberty defense broke up another deep pass.
The Indians took over on downs and let the clock run out.
Liberty’s running stats: Ryan VanLieu 10 carries for 80 yards, Trevor Tompkins 10 carries for 67 yards and Dustin VanLieu seven carries 31 yards
“I thought we played with heart, but unfortunately we made too many mistakes,” Spackenkill Coach Don Neise said.
“Our defense played well in the first half, and our linebackers filled holes, but not for four quarters,” he added.
O’Connor bit his tongue a bit while saying “I wasn’t too pleased” watching from the sidelines as three touchdowns (and at least 18 points vanished into thin air).
“They came out in the second half and played good ball, executed and did the things they had to do,” he said of his team’s overall effort.
O’Connor said that in recent games, a few of his players had become a bit “lackadaisical” as the toil of the game started to take its toll.
So to remedy that, the Liberty coaching staff ramped up their conditioning program: running the hills, more sprints and vigorous practices to build endurance.
“It helped out today, and the linemen started blocking better in the second half,” O’Connor said.