Archbold at one point allowed 25 unanswered points to Liberty Center, seeing a 21-7 first half lead disappear while dropping a 39-36 decision to the visiting Tigers in Northwest Ohio Athletic League football action Friday night.
“We’re gonna look at the film. There’s a lot of things we could have did better,” said Archbold coach David Dominique after the contest. “But hats off to (Liberty Center). They played a heck of a ball game. That’s a physical football team. They’re gonna win a lot of games now. They are the real deal. But I think the biggest thing for our guys, our lack of discipline really kind of shot us in the foot in the end. And that’s a thing we can clean up.”
As for Liberty Center, it was their second time in as many weeks knocking off a previously unbeaten NWOAL foe. They defeated Wauseon 35-29 the weekend prior.
“We just kind of got in the flow of the game,” said Tigers’ coach Casey Mohler on battling back from an early deficit. “And just kept plugging away. Kept doing our thing. We seemed to get a little bit better as the first half went on. We didn’t panic, that was probably the biggest thing.”
The Blue Streaks were able to use the feet and right arm of D.J. Newman to help build that aforementioned 14-point lead in the first half. They took 7:05 off the clock on the game’s first possession, a drive ending with Newman hitting Antonio Cruz for a touchdown from five yards out and a Devin Witte extra point putting the Streaks ahead 7-0. Newman also totaled 43 yards on the ground on the drive as he helped put Archbold in scoring position.
Then in the second quarter, Newman connected with Brandon Taylor for a 27-yard score on a second-and-5 play, giving Archbold a 14-0 lead just seven seconds into the stanza.
After the Tigers hit on a 64-yard strike from Camden Krugh to Trent Murdock to cut into the Blue Streak lead, the Streaks answered with an eight yard run by Newman to put them up 21-7 with still 9:36 left in the first half. The Archbold drive was set in motion by runs of 21 and 19 yards from Newman and Caleb Hogrefe.
However, the rest of the period belonged to LC as the Tigers scored on three straight possessions.
It looked as if the Archbold defense would get off the field on the immediate Tiger possession, but on third down, Krugh found Murdock on another flag pattern and the senior raced 74 yards to paydirt. The point after try from Asa Killam was no good to keep the score at 21-13 at the 7:52 mark of the quarter.
“That tight end’s a great player. He’s a mismatch,” said Dominique of Murdock, who caught three passes for 163 yards and two scores. “He’s a big boy that can run and catch the ball. I think our guys just got our eyes in the backfield. And I mean, well, they executed that. I can’t take that away from them. But there’s things that I know we can improve on. We’ll improve. We’ll bounce back from this.”
The Tigers then forced a Blue Streak punt, leading to a Zach Bowers 26-yard jaunt to the end zone with 4:34 left in the half. They went for two, but the pass was knocked away to keep the Streaks ahead 21-19.
Momentum continued to swing in the Tigers favor as Connor Keller picked off Newman and advanced the ball to the Archbold 47 yard line. LC cashed in on a quarterback sneak from Krugh, however, the conversion attempt was incomplete, keeping the score at 25-21 in favor of the Tigers.
They carried that lead into the halftime break, then proceeded to milk almost half the time in the third quarter in a drive that also ended with a score.
On second-and-goal from the Archbold eight yard line, Krugh found Alex Righi in the left corner of the end zone and Killam’s extra point extended the Tiger lead to 32-21 with 6:26 left in the third quarter.
The Streaks got their offense going near the end of the third and into the fourth. They connected on passes of 11 and 24 yards to Taylor and Hogrefe that put them in the red zone, where four plays later Hogrefe ran it in from three yards out and Newman’s two-point conversion got them within a field goal, 32-29, at the 9:42 mark of the fourth.
However, LC then ate up 5:45 off the clock and converted on Bowers’ 21-yard run, extending the lead back to 10 with just under four minutes remaining.
Archbold would pad the stat book by scoring on a 27-yard pass to Elijah Zimmerman with one tick left, but that was it.
Before that final TD, the Tigers outscored the Streaks 32-8 after falling behind early.
“They were mixing it up a little bit,” said Dominique on what the Tigers did defensively. “They got some pressure on our quarterback quite a few times. He took quite a few hits. I think they rattled him a bit. That’s one of those things as a young quarterback, he’ll learn from it. He’ll get better.”
LC outgained Archbold 466-360, with a 228-132 advantage on the ground. Bowers had 124 yards rushing and two scores, while Max Phillips added 103 yards.
Newman had 238 yards passing and three TDs to three interceptions, plus 66 yards rushing and a score. Hogrefe also had 66 yards rushing and a score. Zimmerman caught five passes for 73 yards and that final score.
Archbold (5-1, 2-1 NWOAL) next travels to Delta (0-6, 0-3).
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010