Story by Eli Ruiz
ELDRED Liberty quarterback Quinn Jackson put on a clinic, while Tony Saravia provided a lesson on defense Monday as the Indians ran, passed and sacked their way past a young, shorthanded and overmatched Eldred squad 42-0 in a non-league game played Monday afternoon.
It wasn't all good news for Liberty (0-1, 3-2), though, as the Indians would lose their star running back, Kenny Jaycox, to a knee injury early in the game.
"The x-ray came up negative but that wouldn't show ligament damage so he's going for an MRI today," said Liberty coach John Wilhelm. "They have put him on crutches and an imobilizer brace. We expect him to be out two 2 weeks, but of course if they find ligament damage, he's gone for the year."
Saravia wasted no time, recording his first of eight tackles for losses on the game’s second play and Eldred was three and out as QB Anthony Margarum rotated from tailback to quarterback, a result of last week's season-ending injury to top starting running-back Mike Donnelly.
"I've been a running back since the Pop Warner days, so I felt comfortable back there," said Margarum afterwards. "When Mike [Donnelly] broke his collarbone last weekend, we knew we were going to have to do something different. We’re trying to switch things up because the last two games we just haven't been effective on offense."
"We tried to use Marg [Margarum] anytime we possibly could," said Eldred coach Patrick Kean. "He's our athlete, and we're a very small school so it's just tough. But if we had a few more Anthony Margarums on our team I think we'd be in good shape.
“Some of the younger kids on the team are used to winning from their Pop Warner days and the losing thing is kind of new to them. That's just a hard thing to coach out of them," added Kean.
Disaster would strike for Liberty on their second drive as Jaycox broke a big 27-yard run into Eldred territory. What seemed like a routine tackle at the Eldred 31, ended up with Jaycox being carted off the field in a lot of pain, and transported to Catskill Regional Medical Center (CRMC) for x-rays on his left knee.
Liberty's coaching staff then unleashed Jackson on the Yellowjackets, and the Indians didn’t miss a beat as two plays later Jackson lofted a beautiful 31-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Henry for the game’s first score. A fake on the extra point attempt allowed Jackson enough room on the left side to walk into the end zone untouched to give Liberty an 8-0 lead with 2:47 left in the first quarter.
Jackson was far from done. He went on to compete 5 of 8 passes for 275 yards and four touchdowns of 31, 51, 64 and 73 yards respectively. Incredibly, Jackson also averaged 31.5 yards on the ground, carrying the ball four times for 125 yards and two more scores on runs of 49 and 55 yards, having a hand in all six Indian touchdowns.
"My line gave me a lot of time, just great blocking up-front and I had a pocket to sit in all day," said Jackson. "Our receivers ran sharp routes. I just put it in the air and they went and got it, great play all around."
Great play indeed, as Liberty managed mistake free football all game long with only one offsides penalty very early in the game and no turnovers.
"We played mistake free football and both sides of the ball,” said Wilhelm. “And when you play that kind of game, just look at the scoreboard those are the results you get."
As much as Jackson was the story on offense, Saravia was relentless on defense. The senior finished the game with some staggering statistics: 15 tackles (8 for losses) and three quarterback sacks. Ranked 28th in New York State in tackles, Saravia is quicker than his size would suggest and was in the backfield several times on Monday before the handoff.
A humble young man of very few words, Saravia said simply, "I just play hard and I practice hard. I love this game and I come to play."
"Tony's our best offensive lineman and played on the defensive line last year. Due to graduation losses we moved him to linebacker this season and he's just been a force. Just a great athlete and kid. He's the real deal."
For Eldred, not only did the Liberty defense get to them, but also falling behind early.
"They [the Liberty defense] pressured us a lot,” said Margerum. “We started out strong but we've got a lot of young guys who aren't used to losing and as soon as we get down they kind of hang their heads.
“We won our first two games by a combined score of 96-0 and we didn't have to deal with adversity then, but since the Sullivan West game and we knew they were a great team once we get scored on and get down, the younger guys want to hang their heads. It needs to stop."
Margarum finished 5 of 7 passing for 86 yards. He also had 15 carries for 58 very tough yards.
Eldred fell to 2-3 and will play at Onteora Saturday afternoon, while Liberty hosts John S. Burke Catholic in a big league game Saturday afternoon.
"It's a playoff game, said Jackson. “That's how we're approaching the game. It's a must win."