Inside the Game: Mendota Aztecs 26, Liberty Hawks 19
Player of the game: Hands down, the best player on the field Friday night was Liberty fullback/middle linebacker Christian Baker. However you will never know it by his reactions. Baker is one of those quiet player that leads by example. He carried the ball 22 times for 188 yards and scored three touchdowns. He didn’t have a carry for zero or negative yards. He had a career-long 68-yard touchdown run and averaged 8.6 yards per carry. His 188 yards rushing is the seventh-best total in school history.He also recorded six tackles, including two tackles for losses.
Unsung Hero of the game: Linebacker/running back Kaleb Roth may not be the biggest player on the field, but he led the Hawks with 10 tackles with two solo tackles. He helped provide solid tackling that held Mendota to 132 yards, including four sacks for 49 yards. In addition, he rushed eight times for 53 yards.
Play of the game: Leading 7-6 in the second quarter, Baker got the hand off at Liberty’s 32-yard line. The play didn’t start off looking that great, although the Hawks exploited a big gap in the Mendota defense. Two Hawks offensive linemen collided trying to open the hole at the line of scrimmage. Baker was set to go outside the left tackle, but got bumped by his own player to go inside of the tackle. The re-routing worked better because Baker went through a huge hole, broke a tackle at the second level and outran the rest of the Mendota defense for a 68-yard touchdown run.
Drive of the game: Trailing 19-12 early into the fourth quarter, the Hawks defense forced a punt and Liberty took over at Mendota’s 48-yard line. After a delay of game penalty, Kaleb Roth gained 13 yards for a third-and-five. Quarterback Markie Brandt drew a roughing the passer penalty to keep the drive alive. Baker gained 11 yards on two plays to get to the six-yard line. After an offsides penalty, Baker scored from three yards out to cap a seven-play, 48-yard drive. Michael Hammon’s extra point tied the game with 8:35 left in the fourth quarter. Liberty had three more opportunities to tie the score before the end of the game, but a punt, turnover on downs and the final gun ended any Liberty comeback.