Player of the game: Kaleb Roth kept fighting for every yard until the very end of the game when he scored on a 19-yard touchdown run with nine seconds left on the clock. He rushed for 153 yards with two touchdowns against Chowchilla. Since a late-game injury to Christian Baker, Liberty’s leading rusher, Roth has rushed for 316 yards in two games with five touchdowns. He rushed for more than 100 yards in each North Sequoia League game and finished with 560 yards and scored seven touchdowns.
Unsung heroes of the game: As has been the team’s strength all season long, the defensive line did its yeomen’s work Friday night. Facing a Chowchilla team that ran the ball 35 times, the Hawks allowed just two 20 or more yard runs and yielded an average of 5.3 yards per carry. The top four Liberty linemen — Ethan Clark, Nick Hayes, Javier Lopez and Brett Cazares — combined for 20 of the team’s 53 tackles Friday night. Lopez and Hayes tied for the team lead with six tackles each.
Play of the game: The Liberty defense forced the Redskins to punt from their own 46-yard line while leading 14-7. The punt forced returner Wyatt Johnson to backpedal and he tried a fair catch inside the five-yard line. The ball bounced off Johnson’s chest and Johnson went down to retrieve the ball in the end zone. Once he got his arms around the ball, the whistle blew, but two Chowchilla players jumped on the ball after Johnson let go. The officials didn’t know what to do. After much deliberation, what could have been a touchback or a safety for Chowchilla turned into a touchdown after it was ruled Chowchilla recovered in the end zone. That play turned a seven-point deficit into a 14-point deficit the Hawks couldn’t recover from.
Drive of the game: After the Redskins jumped out to a 14-0 first quarter lead, the Hawks responded to show Chowchilla they were still in the game. That led to a 19-play (Liberty’s longest scoring drive in terms of plays this season), 73-yard drive to get the Hawks back within seven. On the drive, Liberty converted three third downs and got a six-yard run on fourth-and-six from the 15. Wyatt Roth gained four on third-and-four to give the Hawks a first down at the one. Two plays later, Brandt scored for a 14-7 Chowchilla lead with 4:13 left on the clock. The Liberty drive took more than nine minutes off the clock.