Tyler Takeda/The Madera Tribune
Liberty’s Wyatt Roth runs into the open field en route to a 70-yard touchdown run to open the scoring of Friday’s 63-0 victory over Fowler. Ethan Clark (58) and Brett Cazares (50) move downfield to block.
The Liberty Hawks football team desperately needed a victory.
The Hawks entered last Friday’s game opening the season with three losses by a combined 10 points.
However, after Friday’s game, the mood was significantly better in a total demolishing of rival Fowler, 63-0.
“We needed a win like this for our team,” head coach Mike Nolte said. “We got a lot of guys in. I saw our team grow a lot. They were rooting hard for each other no matter who was making plays. They were all excited for each other. It’s a big step to where we want to get to as a football team.”
The Hawks scored on nine of their first 10 drives, invoking the running clock. Liberty dominated every aspect of the game. Fowler gained just 85 yards of total offense while the Hawks’ running attack was running on all cylinders, rushing for 391 yards and gaining almost eight yards a carry.
The Hawks had three players score two touchdowns and three players gain more than 80 yards rushing. Wyatt Roth led the way with 145 yards on just eight carries. He scored two touchdowns, including a 70-yarder on the game’s second play from scrimmage.
Roth’s brother, Kaleb, also rushed for 87 yards and two touchdowns. Christian Baker rushed for 83 yards and also scored a touchdown. Backup Phillip Banuelos closed Liberty’s scoring with its final two touchdowns of the night.
“We did have a good week of practice,” Nolte said. “The kids are staying hungry, which is impressive to me. After an 0-3 start, it’s difficult to keep pushing. They have the character to keep pushing. I’m proud of them. It showed tonight.”
Much of the success of the rushing attack has to go to the offensive line — left tackle Brett Cazares, left guard Cory Hiatt, center Harrison Caetano, right guard Ethan Clark and right tackle Anthony Imirian.
“That’s a staple of what we do, run the ball,” Nolte said. “If we can run the football against you, it’s going to be a long night for the other team. The guys up front really did a great job tonight. Coming into the game, Fowler played some pretty good defense. I was happy with the way they prepared and how they played.”
While the offense was racking up the yards, the defense was keeping Fowler from moving the ball. Fowler averaged 1.7 yards per play. They gained 70 yards rushing, but lost 27 for a net of 43 yards. Their longest play went for 15 yards and they turned the ball over three times — interceptions by Markie Brandt, Greyson Hoelzel and Alvaro Rivera.
Nolte was able to clear his bench midway through the third quarter with the running clock was invoked after a 56-0 lead.
“Football is a tough game and the kids come out to practice every day to work their tails off, “Nolte said. “They deserve to get as much playing time as we can give them. When we’re able to get everyone in the game, it’s rewarding to me. It’s also rewarding for me to see everyone excited about everybody playing.
After Wyatt Roth scored on the game’s second play, Fowler punted to the Liberty six. Eight plays later, including a 43-yard pass play from Brandt to Wyatt Johnson, Christian Baker scored on a 24-yard run up the middle.
Javier Lopez stuffed Fowler for a four-yard loss and Cazares combined with Lopez for a sack to stuff a Fowler drive.
After a Fowler punt, Kaleb Roth carried 21 yards into the end zone for a 21-0 lead with 5:55 left in the first quarter, less than two minutes after they scored their previous touchdown.
Kicker Michael Hamman made all nine of his extra points.
Liberty added another touchdown before the end of the first quarter. After a 23-yard punt return by Johnson, Kaleb Roth carried for 11-yards to the 17-yard line. The Hawks got the ball to the one and Brandt scored on a sneak for a 28-0 lead with 2:19 left in the first quarter.
The Redcats get their first first down on a roughing the kicker penalty and moved to the Hawks’ 42-yard line before turning the ball over on downs. Six plays later, after a pass interference penalty, Roth scored from eight yards out for a 35-0 lead with eight minutes left in the half.
The Redcats, who earned just seven first downs in the game, got another first down by a Liberty penalty on their next drive. However, the Hawks forced a punt.
The Hawks fumbled the ball back to Fowler. Two plays later Brandt intercepted a Fowler pass and returned it to the Fowler 34-yard line.
Three plays later, Brandt hit Hoelzel in the flat with a pass and Hoelzel weaved his way through the Fowler defense for a 25-yard touchdown catch-and-run and a 42-0 lead with 2:35 left in the first half.
On Liberty’s first possession of the second half, the run game took the Hawks into the end zone. Baker carried for nine, Kaleb Roth carried for nine more. Baker got the ball for four and Wyatt Roth gained 10 for a first down. Kaleb Roth finished the drive with an eight-yard touchdown run and a 49-0 lead just two minutes into the second half.
Hoelzel picked off Fowler to give Liberty the ball at the Redcats’ 30. Banuelos found the end zone on his third straight carry for a 56-0 lead during a running clock.
On the ensuing kickoff, Johnson forced a Redcats’ fumble and Keaton Ellis recovered at the 24-yard line.
Banuelos carried up the middle for a 24-yard touchdown run on the final play of the third quarter for the 63-0 victory.
Liberty plays at winless Corcoran on Friday at 7 p.m.