For 43 minutes, Evergreen went nose-to-nose with the third-ranked Division VI team in the state.
But a late score, then back-to-back pick six interceptions opened up a 49-21 win for Liberty Center that also allowed the Tigers to claim a share of the Northwest Ohio Athletic League title Friday at Pifer Field.
Liberty took a 7-0 first quarter lead on Trent Murdock’s 49-yard catch and run of a Camden Krugh pass.
However, after an exchange of punts gave the Vikes great field position at the Tiger 25-yard line, Jack Etue hit Jake Riggs for 19 to get a first-and-goal at the 6.
Three plays netted three yards and on fourth down Jack Krispin pulled in an Etue aerial for a score to tie the game at 7-7.
Connor Keller’s 50-yard kickoff return gave the Tigers a great starting point at the Evergreen 30, and on the first play it was Krugh to Murdock again for a scoring strike to give the Tigers a 14-7 lead.
On the Vikings’ ensuing drive, a pair of personal fouls for blows to the head helped set Evergreen up at the Tiger 36. From there Brian Floyd – seeing his first action since breaking his leg on the fifth play of the season – made a diving catch in the back of the end zone to bring Evergreen back even at 14-14.
The Vikings forced another Tiger punt and on a third-and-nine from his own 19, Etue went long down the right sideline where Riggs stole the ball out of a Tiger defender’s hands and went 81 yards for a score that gave Evergreen a 21-14 advantage.
Krugh came right back, hitting six straight passes, the sixth being a third TD strike to Murdock to bring the Tigers within 21-20, but Floyd blocked the point after, keeping the Vikes in front by a point at the half.
To that point, the vaunted Tiger rushing attack had just 18 yards, although Krugh threw for a hair over 200, while Etue had 199 throwing in the first half for the Vikes.
Evergreen again stopped the Tigers’ first drive of the third, forcing a punt that settled at the Evergreen 2.
Trent Coopshaw’s eight yard jaunt got one first down, Krispin’s third down catch got another, and yet another major penalty, this one an unsportsmanlike conduct on the Tigers pushed Evergreen to the Tiger 41.
However, a chop block and a holding penalty on what would’ve been another first down catch by Krispin stoned the Viking drive and forced a kick.
From that point, Max Phillips rushed for two first downs and Keller had a huge third down catch for another that set up Phillips’ 10-yard scoring run to give the Tigers a 27-21 lead in the fourth quarter.
After a Viking punt, Phillips finally broke loose for a 21-yard gain. Krugh’s 19-yard pass to Keller set up Karter Kern’s six yard TD, and with the ensuin two-pointer, the Tigers took a 35-21 lead with under five minutes left.
The Vikings – while in their hurry up offense – got a first down catch by Krispin, then another from Floyd on a fourth down play in Tiger territory.
However on the next play, Keller stepped in front of an Etue pass and raced 75 yards for a score. Then on the next Viking play after the kickoff, Phillips did the same to ice the game.
After throwing for over 200 yards in the first half, Krugh ended up with 246 on the night. The Tigers ran for 134 yards total after getting just 18 in the first 24 minutes.
Etue matched Krugh’s three scoring strikes and threw for 242 yards, however, was hindered by the two interceptions that went for Tiger scores.
The Vikings finish 4-6 on the season.
Reach Joe Blystone at firstname.lastname@example.org