St. Joe Central hangs on to beat Liberty

By Scott Kendall PrepsKC staff writer
Posted: September 26, 2015 - 12:24 AM

It was Homecoming night for Liberty and the Blue Jays were looking to get their first victory of the season. But, they'd have to do it against a gritty St. Joe Central team who has been able to put up some points this season.

Liberty won the toss and St Joe Central started off with the ball. Israel "Izzy" Smith would start off the game with a 44-yard kickoff return to Liberty's 49-yard line. St Joe Central looked as if they would put the first points on the board, but quickly fell to the flag bug early and was staring at a first-and-32 to go, they managed to reduce it down to fourth-and-27, but were forced to punt on their first possession.

Liberty also got off to a slow start and on second and 10 the snapper snapped the ball without the quarterback looking and the ball sailed past and Scott Hansen for St Joe Central covered up the fumble and gave St Joe Central excellent field position on Liberty's own 19-yard line.

Izzy ran the ball into the end zone four plays later with a 4-yard TD run, Austin Jackson put in the XP and St Joe Central struck first with a 4-play, 48 second drive.

Liberty would give the ball right back to St Joe on a fake punt giving St Joe Central great field position, again, on Liberty's own 32-yard line. Again four plays later, Izzy punched in his 2nd TD of the night on a 10-yard run, XP by Jackson was good and this put St Joe Central up 14-0 with 3:48 left in the first quarter.

Both teams would exchange three-and-outs and then Liberty's Robert Rawie strung together four straight runs for a total of 24-yards. Quarter back Ryan Potts had two big receptions on the drive, once with Kaiden Hulett for a 39-yard strike and then with Matthew Gastner for a 41-yard pass/catch TD, Drew Mackie tacked on the XP and Liberty was down by only seven points.

Liberty kicked off the ball, but to the wrong guy, Izzy picked the ball off on the 5-yard line and ran the ball all the way to the house, to complete the 95-yard TD return, XP by Jackson and St Joe Central was up again by 14 points.

Liberty was unable to move the ball in their next possession and was forced to punt the ball back to St Joe Central. St Joe Central put together a 4:01, 10-play drive that ended on a 39-yard pass/catch TD between Jacob Hess and Cade Musser, XP by Jackson and St Joe Central looked to be taking the game over with a 21-point lead.

But, Liberty had other plans, Robert Rawie took over the drive and on the 2nd play from scrimmage ran a 71-yarder down the right side line, XP was good and Liberty would just not go away, they were bound and determined to get back into the game.

St Joe Central would turn the ball back over to Liberty when they tried to go for it on 4th & 1 and were denied by the Liberty defense. With 1:37 left in the first half, Liberty would put together a 5-play, 47-yard drive where quarterback, Ryan Potts and Xavier Hinkle scored on a 13-yard pass/catch, the XP by Mackie was good and Liberty was only down 7-points at the half.

Liberty started off with the ball in the 2nd half. Rawie would start the drive with a 21-yard kickoff return. The, Rawie ran the ball 7-times for 75-yards including the game tying 5-yard TD, XP by Makie and Liberty and St Joe were all tied up 28-a-piece.

St Joe Central were driving once again, but stalled on the 13-yard line. 30-yard field goal try was missed wide left. This would give the ball back to Liberty and they would try to take their first lead of the game. But Liberty was unable to produce any points and was forced to punt it back to St Joe Central.

St Joe Central stalled in their possession and was forced to punt the ball. The snap was low and hit the ground, the punter tried to gather the ball, but as soon as he got the ball under control, a defender from Liberty knocked the ball out of his hands and Caden Bayle picked up the loose ball and ran the ball 46-yards for the fumble recovery TD. This was Liberty's first lead of the game, 35-28.

Liberty would hold St Joe Central out of the end zone and would get the ball back to try and extend their lead out more. Liberty looked as if they would extend their lead, but would have to do so with a 34-yard field goal attempt, the kick was up and the kick was wide left.

With 5:13 left on the clock and St Joe Central down 7-points, they needed to get a score. Two quick incomplete passes by Hess and St Joe Central was staring at a 3rd & 11. Roderick and Hess would then hook up for one of the biggest plays in the game with a 37-yard reception. On the very next play, Khalik Henderson took a shovel pass down to Liberty's 3-yard line. Izzy then took over from there and punched in the game tying TD run around the left side, XP was good and we were all knotted up once again.

Liberty would not go quietly into the night, with 3:40 left in the game, Robert Rawie put together an impressive drive. Rawie started with a 40-yard kickoff return. Then ran the ball 5-straight times for 58-yards including the 36-yard TD run and putting Liberty back on top, 42-35 with 1:41 left in the game.

Liberty kicked off and put the ball in the end zone, touchback, starting the drive at St Joe Centrals own 20-yard line. Hess and Musser hooked up with a 5-yard reception. Jackson Barnes would break up a would be pass from Hess, forcing a 3rd & 5. Hess would get another big reception from Musser, this time for 19-yards. 1st & 10 from St Joe's 44-yard line, Hess would then find Roderick for 9-yards. Then on the next play, Izzy would take the ball and run up the middle bouncing off would be tacklers and found himself in the end zone for a 47-yard TD run. This would make the score 41-42, Liberty still with the lead. St Joe Central called timeout to think about what to do. They decided to go for two. Izzy lined up in the wildcat, took the snap direct from the center and looked as if he would jump over the pile, but before he leaped, he took a step back and then jumped up and threw a left-handed jump ball to Caden Bayle for the 2-point conversion. Bayle came up with reception, giving St Joe Central a 1-point lead, 43-42.

Liberty would put together a valid effort, but came up short in the end, thus St Joe Central spoiling Liberty's Homecoming game.

Liberty was led by Robert Rawie with 430 all-purpose yards, 296 yards on 40 carries and 3-TDs. Ryan Potts added 203 passing yards and 2 TDs. Xavier Hinkle had 1-TD reception along with 5 catches for 62 yards and Matthew Gastner had 1 catch for 41-yards and that reception was for a TD.

Jacob Hess led the way for St Joe Central with 283 passing yards, 1 TD and 5-big plays down the stretch that kept the game alive for St Joe Central. Israel "Izzy" Smith had 27 carries for 107 yards, 144 Return yards and 5 total TDs. Keith Roderick had 6 catches for 86 yards. Cade Musser had 7 catches for 135 yards and 1-TD.

Liberty falls to 0-6 on the season and St Joe Central improves to 2-4. St. Joe Central will host Ruskin (0-6) next week and Liberty will travel to Park Hill South (0-6).