LIBERTY CENTER – Liberty Center would not be denied on their Homecoming Friday when despite falling into a 14-point hole, they managed to battle back for a 35-20 victory over visiting Archbold in Northwest Ohio Athletic League football.
The Bluestreaks were outscored 35-6 over the final 34 plus minutes of the contest.
“I liked the way we played early on. We were executing well,” said Archbold coach David Dominique. “As the game drug on, though, you could see that our execution wasn’t there. There was a lot of missed plays. A lot of missed tackles. It’s things that we can fix though. That’s a good thing for us.”
Archbold scored first in the second quarter on a fourth-and-5 at the Liberty Center 25 yard line. Brandon Taylor rolled right and found Antonio Cruz open for a touchdown. Elijah Zimmerman’s extra point made it 7-0 with 10:44 left in the half.
The Streaks would find the end zone 12 seconds later after a Zach Bowers’ fumble for the Tigers gave them the ball at the LC 43. Following an incomplete pass on first down, Izrael Reyes burst through the line and found paydirt on second to put the margin at 14-0.
However, the Tigers got going on the ground to help turn the game around.
They were forced into a fourth-and-1 at the Bluestreak 32, where Caleb Carpenter broke tackles and rumbled down to the four yard line, setting up first and goal. Carpenter capped off the drive two plays later from three yards out and Orry Killam’s extra point cut it to 14-7 with 7:54 remaining.
In total, Liberty Center rushed for 252 yards. Carpenter had 109 on 24 carries and three scores.
“Their o-line did a good job,” stated Dominique. “For awhile they took control of the line of scrimmage. And he (Carpenter) just ran through people. He’s just a great player.”
An interception by Liberty Center’s Austin Like led to the game-tying TD.
The big play of the drive was a 40-yard run from Carpenter, as he maneuvered his way down to the Archbold nine. Then, on a third and goal play, Jarrett Krugh scored on a quarterback sneak from two yards out, tying the game at the 3:39 mark of the second quarter.
The Streaks advanced the ball into Tiger territory on the ensuing possession, but they ran out of timeouts and were stopped inbounds on a third down play as the final seconds ticked off the clock.
LC wasted no time padding their lead in the second half, scoring on the opening possession. A 27-yard strike from Krugh to Trent Murdock put the ball in Bluestreak territory at the 23. Carpenter would finish off the drive on a seven yard run to give the Tigers their first lead, 21-14, less than 2:30 in.
He added another seven yarder at the 2:46 mark of the quarter, increasing the lead to 28-14.
Archbold made one final push with a score in the fourth quarter.
Taylor hit L.J. Tijerina and Isaiah Gomez for completions of 25 and seven yards respectively to put them at the Tiger 41. They eventually turned that into a 16-yard TD pass from Taylor to Zimmerman, but after a missed point after, the advantage was eight, 28-20.
However, the Tigers recovered the onside kick. This led to a lengthy drive and Krugh’s one-yard plunge into the end zone to reach the final score with 1:55 left.
Leading the Streaks was Taylor who completed 18 of 40 passes for 233 yards, two TDs and a pair of picks. With leading rusher Noah Gomez sidelined due to injury, Reyes had to pick up the slack as he finished with 64 yards on five carries and a score.
Archbold (4-3, 1-3 NWOAL) will look to rebound at home versus Delta (2-5, 0-4) this week. After suffering three straight league losses, they will look to be perfect from here on out.
“We knew these (last) three weeks coming in, they were gonna be a bear,” said Dominique of his team’s recent struggles. “We didn’t end the way we wanted to in all three, but the biggest thing for us, there’s a lot left to play for. We’ve got to get ready for Delta next week. Week by week, we take care of business I think we have a good shot of making the playoffs.”
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010