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Second quarter keeps Hawks undefeated

Tyler Takeda/The Madera Tribune

Liberty defensive lineman Harrison Caetano brings down Fowler running back Pedro Ayala behind the line while Rylan Howe comes in for support.


FOWLER — The Liberty Hawks football team faced a little adversity, trailing 14-7 in the second quarter. However, the Hawks showed why they are undefeated through three games by scoring 38 straight points to turn a close game into a 55-22 blowout.

The Hawks have won their last six meetings with the Redcats and have scored more than 35 points in each game, including 118 in the last two match-ups. The Hawks took a 38-14 halftime lead and opened it to 45-14 in the third quarter.

“The second quarter, the tide turned really fast,” head coach Mike Nolte said. “It was like, wow. We get the touchdown, the onside kick and another. It went fast and bad for them, but good for us.”

The Hawks rushed for 434 yards as a team. They have rushed for 384 yards or more in all four games this season. Kaleb Roth led the team with 131 yards rushing and scored three touchdowns. He already has 10 rushing touchdowns this season. Wyatt Roth rushed for 111 yards and a touchdown and Rylan Howe gained 86 yards with two touchdowns. The Hawks also had five rushes of more than 20 yards and averaged seven yards per rush.

“We want to run the ball,” Nolte said. “The tempo does help. Our kids are getting in better and better shape and we’ll continue to push the tempo.”

The Liberty defense allowed Fowler to drive 141 yards on its first two touchdown drives. In the six possession after the second touchdown, the Redcats only gained 76 yards before driving for the final score of the game during a running clock.

“Once you get up, you’re worrying about keeping possession and keeping it out of their hands,” Nolte said. “We got everybody in and that was huge. It just makes every excited about practice next week.”

The Redcats took the opening kickoff and, helped by a 21-yard run from quarterback Martin Plata and a 42-yard run by running back Pedro Ayala, drove 76 yards on seven plays. Plata scored from two yards out for a 7-0 lead with 8:57 left in the first quarter.

The Hawks drove to the Fowler 14-yard line, but turned the ball over on downs. The Hawks’ defense forced a punt and Liberty drove to tie the game.

The Hawks, who enjoyed good field position for most of the game, drove 44 yards on eight plays for their first touchdown. Liberty’s average start was the 50-yard line while Fowler’s average drive start was on its own 27-yard line.

Kaleb Roth gained nine for a first down and Howe followed with a 10-yard run. Quarterback Greyson Hoelzel kept it for six yards and another first down.

Three plays later, Wyatt Roth went around the left side to the end zone for a nine-yard touchdown run to tie the score with 2:05 left in the first quarter after a point after from Charlie Smith, who was perfect on six attempts in his first game kicking point afters.

The Redcats earned three first downs to drive 65-yards on 10 plays to take the lead. Plata scrambled for 13-yards and a first down, Ayala gained 23 yards to the six-yard line. Plata hit Chris Silva in the end zone for a touchdown with 11:10 left in the first half.

“They came out with a good offensive scheme that we weren’t prepared for,” Nolte said. “They got some good mileage out of it. It was good for our kids to adjust on the fly and learn how to do that.”

The Hawks got another short field on a 26-yard kickoff return from Smith. Wyatt Roth gained 14-yards to the 34-yard line. He got another first down on a six-yard run and Kaleb Roth got a first down to the eight. Two plays later, Roth scored from five yards out inside the right pylon to tie the score with 8:52 left in the first half.

The Liberty defense pushed Fowler back on the next drive. Adam Pearce stuffed a ball carrier for a loss of two. Tahner Green stuffed a ball carrier for a loss of six. Wyatt Roth sacked Plata for an eight-yard loss, but a face mask penalty was called giving the Redcats a weird first down on third-and-18 after a five-yard penalty.

On the next play, Plata tried to throw a pass to the flat, but it was blocked by William Bucaroff. The ball went back to Plata in the end zone and he threw another pass, this time complete, but a penalty was called for two forward passes on the same play. Since the penalty occurred in the end zone, the Hawks received a safety and led 16-14.

The free kick punt went just 27 yards and the Hawks took over. Hoelzel launched a long pass to Smith and he pulled it down with a defender on him for a 29-yard gain. Wyatt Roth gained seven for a first down to the three. Two plays later, Howe scored from a yard out for a 22-14 lead with 5:06 left in the half.

After an offsides penalty on the point after, Nolte elected for the two-point conversion and Roth scored for a 24-14 lead.

The Liberty defense forced a three-and-out and the Hawks took over at midfield. Hoelzel scrambled for a 21-yard gain and Wyatt Roth gained 21 to the 19-yard line. Two plays later, Kaleb Roth went off the right side and cut inside a Jacob Castaneda block for a 12-yard touchdown run and a 38-14 with 1:08 left in the game. The Hawks scored three touchdowns in a four-minute span and four in eight minutes for a 24-point halftime lead.

The Hawks went on a nine-play, 63-yard drive to open the second half with their sixth straight touchdown drive. The big play was a 16-yard pass to Wyatt Roth and a 15-yard penalty as added to it. Kaleb Roth then carried up the middle for 30 yards and Howe finished the drive from five yards out for a 
45-14 lead midway through the third quarter.

Keaton Ellis picked off Plata late in the third quarter and returned it 33-yards to the Fowler 24-yard line. The Hawks scored four plays later with Tahner Green running over a Fowler defender into the end zone for the touchdown. Smith’s extra point gave the Hawks a 52-14 lead with 11:13 left in the game.

Fowler went on a six-play, 79-yard drive, which was capped by a Plata 17-yard touchdown run and a Plata two-point conversion run, for the 55-22 final score.


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