Tyler Takeda/The Madera Tribune
Liberty’s Tahner Green tries to break a tackle during a fourth quarter run. He gained 17 yards on the play and then scored on the next play in Friday’s 54-38 loss to Patterson.
The Liberty Hawks football team looked to have things under control in the first quarter, jumping out to a 14-3 lead against the Patterson Lions in its final non-conference game of the season.
However, the Lions blitzed the Hawks for 28 points — coming in a six-minute span — to take control of the game and give the Hawks their first loss of the season with a 54-28 victory.
Six of Patterson’s eight touchdowns came from 30 or more yards, including a touchdown run and a punt return for a touchdown from 70 yards out.
“Everything was going to have to line up and go right for us,” Liberty head coach Mike Nolte said. “It started to at the beginning. We got some momentum and got up early. We forced them out of their comfort zone or what they wanted to do. We prepared so hard to stop their run, which we did, that it put us in a vulnerable situation against the pass. They can throw the ball. It makes it tough when teams can run and throw the ball.”
Patterson gained 495 yards of total offense against the Hawks, including 361 in the air. However, Patterson was held to just 3.1 yards per carry.
“We chose to stop what they were doing best from what we saw on film,” Nolte said. “They ran the football effectively on teams so we wanted to take away what they do best. We forced them to do something they don’t normally do. They were definitely capable of throwing the ball, which is what they showed. We were successful in taking away what they like to do.”
Liberty still rushed for 235 yards, but for the first time this season, didn’t have a 100-yard rusher. Kaleb Roth led the Hawks with 82 yards rushing and scored two more touchdowns. He now has 14 touchdowns in six games and it’s sixth-most in school history.
The Hawks will now enjoy a bye week before beginning North Sequoia League play on Oct. 13 against Sierra-Tollhouse on Homecoming.
“Healthwise, I hoped we would be healthy going into the bye week,” Nolte said. “I also wanted to be 6-0 heading into the bye week. Our kids are playing hard, they are tuned in and play hard for each other. I’m proud of them this year.”
Patterson took the opening kickoff and drove down the field before the Hawks forced a field goal. Patterson’s Allen Godinez hit a 37-yard field goal and made seven of eight of his extra points.
After an interception, the Liberty defense forced another punt and took over at midfield.
Kaleb Roth started the drive with a first down run. On fourth-and-five, Hoelzel scrambled for a 26-yard gain to the five-yard line. However, a questionable penalty was called against the Hawks and Liberty was forced to punt and Jarred Castaneda downed the ball at the six.
On the next play, Roth forced a fumble from Patterson quarterback Gabe Sanchez and brother Wyatt Roth recovered at the three.
Kaleb Roth turned the fumble into six points with a touchdown on the next play. Bradley Moon hit the extra point and Liberty led 7-3 with 29 seconds left in the first quarter.
The Hawks, again, forced a Patterson punt, stuffing the Lions’ running game to just six yards on the drive.
The Hawks took over inside Patterson territory and Roth ripped off a 16-yard run. After a Patterson 15-yard facemask penalty, Wyatt Roth took the hand off and went up the middle for a 14-yard touchdown run for a 14-3 lead with 10:07 left in the first half.
Then, the Lions started to go no-huddle and work on the passing game. After a Liberty pass interference penalty, Patterson scored on the sixth play on a 39-yard touchdown catch by James Perez.
The Hawks went three-and-out on their next possession and Patterson had good field position. The Lions took advantage and scored on a 34-yard touchdown catch-and-run by Phabian Portillo to take a 17-14 lead with 6:25 left in the half.
After another Liberty three-and-out, Raymond Smith returned Greyson Hoelzel’s punt 70 yards into the end zone for another touchdown with 4:33 left.
The Hawks drove inside Patterson territory with a Rylan Howe 22-yard run and a 15-yard face mask penalty. Hoelzel gained 20 yards to get the ball to the Patterson 26-yard line.
However, an intentional grounding penalty and a false start penalty stopped the drive.
Two plays later, the Lions scored on a 59-yard catch-and-run by Perez for a 31-14 lead heading into the half.
The Hawks got an initial first down out of the first half on a 16-yard run by Howe, but had to punt.
Two plays later, Sanchez hit Kendrick Bond on a quick pass to the flat and Bond went the rest of the way for a 70-yard touchdown and a 38-14 lead.
The Hawks battled back and got a 45-yard catch-and-run from Roth, who bowled over a couple of defenders to move the ball to the 38-yard line. Hoelzel hit Colton Cardoza for a scrambling 28-yard pass to the nine-yard line.
Two plays later, Roth scored from three yards out to cut the lead to 38-21.
The Lions then went on a 10-play, 72-yard drive to add another touchdown with a five-yard run by Bond.
Hoelzel was intercepted and the Lions drove 69 yards on nine plays to score their final touchdown of the game, a 43-yard catch-and-run by Portillo to a 51-21 lead.
After the Hawks punted, another long Patterson drive (11 plays) resulted in a 477-yard field goal.
The Hawks kept battling and a 27-yard run by Roth moved the ball into Patterson territory. Tahner Green carried for seven yards and Wyatt Roth got the first down with a five-yard gain.
Kaleb Roth carried for seven and Green took the ball to the one-yard line with a 17-yard run. Green finished the drive with a one-yard touchdown run for the 54-28 final score.