After only five plays Friday night, Liberty senior Matthew Zombo had already totaled 157 all-purpose yards. He ran wild in the opening three minutes, including a 93-yard kickoff return on the game’s first play.
By SAM McDOWELL
The Kansas City Star
It showed. Upon reaching the Liberty sideline for the first time, Zombo hunched over, put his hands on his knees and tried to catch his breath as quickly as he could.
He had a long night ahead of him.
Turns out, Zombo was just getting started on a two-touchdown outing to lift Liberty to a 25-16 victory against Blue Springs South. Liberty earned its second win against the Jaguars in as many weeks and knocked the Class 6 defending state champions out of the playoffs in the first round.
“It was really hard tonight because they knew a lot of our plays after (playing Blue Springs South) last week,” Zombo said. “We just had to try to change it up and throw them off.”
Liberty will travel to Blue Springs in the second round of district play next week. Blue Springs defeated Liberty 55-20 on Sept. 21.
The Blue Jays, 6-4, earned the rematch thanks to a quick start and a better finish Friday night. Liberty jumped out to a 13-0 lead following Eric Greely’s 15-yard reverse on a fourth-down call.
Blue Springs South running back Khorey Kilgore scored on runs of 45 and 39 yards in the second quarter as part of his 109-yard outing— the latter giving the Jaguars a 14-13 lead heading into halftime.
But Zombo’s 27-yard touchdown run in the third quarter gave the Blue Jays the edge for good.
“That’s the play I’ll remember from this game because it gave us the lead,” Zombo said. “That bounced me back.”
He had a lot to choose from.
Zombo ran for 130 yards on 22 carries and the score, added a kickoff return for a touchdown and even chipped in for the defense with an interception of Blue Springs South quarterback Dalton Brewer.
The interception came three plays after his third-quarter touchdown and in the midst of Liberty’s shutdown second half.
Blue Springs South, 5-5 managed only 12 yards and one first down spanning five second-half drives. Liberty forced three turnovers.
“I think the big thing is we’ve been able to get some good pressure up front and maintain the coverage with our corners,” Liberty coach Chad Frigon said. “We challenged the kids at halftime to execute and not allow the big plays, and they responded.”
The Jaguars’ inconsistency showed over the final two quarters — providing a brief yet fitting glimpse of an unsteady 2012 season.
“I still don’t feel like we ever played the kind of game that we were capable of playing,” Blue Springs South coach Greg Oder said. “I don’t know that we did all year. That’s very frustrating. ... To have it end like this for the seniors is tough.”
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