Liberty North advances past Park Hill South
By Bill Knust PrepsKC staff writer
Looking to hold off a feisty Park Hill South in the first round of the Class 5 District 8 tournament, host Liberty North needed one final stop. Facing a fourth and goal from the four, a Panthers score would cut into the Eagles’ lead. However, a pass into the end zone was knocked away and Liberty North would run out the clock and hold on to a 28-16 victory.
“It was huge,” fullback Devon Davis said of the defense’s stand. “They’ve been great all season. They are a strong unit, and no one told them what they had to do. They came out tough and closed the game. They finished it.”
Davis had a career night, rushing for 95 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries. He also caught two passes for 24 yards and another score as Liberty North scored on two of its three possessions in the second half. The other drive salted the final 2 minutes, 40 seconds off the clock.
“We got off to a slow start in the first half,” Davis said. “We knew we needed to come out and do what we could or there wouldn’t be a next week. We had to let them know from the first play of the second half that this was going to be our game.”
Both of Liberty North’s touchdown drives in the second half ate clock. The Eagles’ third quarter drive covered only 53 yards, but it lasted 12 plays and ate 6:09 off the clock. Davis finished it when quarterback Michael Wansing found him open in the flat on fourth and four for a 10-yard score.
The Panthers answered right back, putting together a 74-yard drive of their own that lasted 12 plays as well. Quarterback Zach Suchanick found a hole on an option play and ran 19 yards untouched to the end zone. A failed two-point conversion left the score 21-16.
The Eagles’ offense went back to work. Another 12-play drive, this one covering 80 yards, resulted in another seven points. The offensive line paved the way, as Liberty North rushed the ball on 10 of the 12 plays. Running back Myquan Powell finished off the drive with a 2-yard score.
“Our offensive line has progressively gotten better throughout the year,” Eagles coach Ken Clemens said. “In the first half they were giving us some trouble with some stunts and their safeties were really active getting up in there. Our kids had a chance to adjust to it in the second half and really cleaned it up.”
Clemens said the Panthers’ aggressive safeties and stunting up front made for the perfect use of Davis.
“It was a good play for us that we haven’t run a lot,” Clemens said. “It’s been in our offense all year. We felt like we were getting them blocked up front, but what was giving us problems is how fast their safeties were getting downhill. We thought the quicker we could get the ball to the line of scrimmage the better.”
Davis wasn’t the only big rusher for the Eagles. Running back Jon Redmond also had a big night. He scored from 42 yards out in the first half and put the game away with a 48-yard run. Overall, he finished with 168 yards on 23 carries and a score.
The Panthers were led by receiver Jake Springer’s five catches for 79 yards and a score.
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