October 28, 2021 - 10:40 pm
No. 2-ranked Liberty scored on its first drive and never looked back, cruising to a 57-6 home victory over Legacy in the opening round of the Class 5A playoffs Thursday night.
Quarterback Jayden Maiava completed 10 of 17 passes for 159 first-half yards and four touchdowns to lead the rout, but the win was a balanced team performance.
“We wanted to reward the kids for their hard work and get everyone involved,” Patriots coach Rich Muraco said. “We wanted to make them feel like everyone is part of the success.”
Anthony Jones started that success, completing a six-play, 57-yard opening drive with a 6-yard touchdown on a pass from Maiava two minutes into the first quarter.
Brody Clark followed with a 21-yard TD sprint up the middle three minutes later, and Isaiah Hampton’s 13-yard interception return gave Liberty (9-1) a 21-0 lead at the end of the quarter.
The second quarter featured two TD passes from Maiava to Germie Bernard and another to Ethan Hilliard, extending the lead to 41-0 at halftime.
“Last week (a 49-7 win over Desert Pines) was our best game, and I’m glad we didn’t fall back,” Muraco said.
Legacy (3-6) struggled offensively throughout, logging 18 first-half yards and finishing with 73 yards. They finally scored when Kris Salles hauled in a 30-yard Curtis Lindsey pass and cut the deficit to 41-6 with 5:35 left in the third.
But any hope was short-lived, as Bernard returned the ensuing kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown, giving the Patriots a 48-6 lead. A safety and a touchdown pass from reserve quarterback Tyrese Smith to Logann Britt rounded out the scoring in the fourth quarter.
Muraco said the victory was harder than it looked, noting that the Longhorns overcame great adversity to make it to the postseason.
“I give them a lot of credit,” Muraco said. “Not many people thought they would even make the playoffs. They did a great job, but we just have a lot of talented athletes and our kids executed.”
Liberty’s Clark carried five times for 48 yards. Teammate Colin Gregorio added two receptions for 64 yards.
Khalon White led the Longhorns, rushing nine times for 21 yards.