Liberty’s perfect season ended a couple of weeks ago due largely to inopportune penalties, turnovers, and the inability to simply get out of its own way.
Luckily for the Blue Jays, they exhibited none of that Friday against Rockhurst.
Liberty committed no turnovers and just one penalty. That discipline, and a boatload of big plays, propelled the Blue Jays to a 34-24 victory at William Jewell College’s Greene Stadium.
It was Liberty’s first win over the Hawklets since 1998. The Blue Jays got it by getting back to the team they were during the season-opening three-game winning streak.
“The last two weeks we’ve kind of been getting on each other. On the sidelines we’ve been kind of bickering and getting mad,” said senior Brady Newland, who was 2 years old the last time Liberty beat Rockhurst. “Throughout last week and this whole week we’ve been working on encouraging each other and not beating ourselves, I guess you could say.”
Rockhurst, 2-4, moved the ball effectively in the first quarter and had a 12-7 lead after Kiah Kintchen’s second touchdown run less than a minute into the second quarter.
The Blue Jays, 4-2, responded immediately when Ervin Leonard returned the ensuing kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown.
Liberty’s next drive ended when Newland hauled in a 43-yard touchdown pass from quarterback A.J. Cambric, making the score 21-12.
The Blue Jays marched 54 yards on the first drive of the second half and pushed their lead to 28-12. Cambric and Newland hooked up again, this time for a 48-yard score, on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Liberty had scoring plays of 52, 98, 48 and 43 yards.
It then became a race to hold off Rockhurst senior Ahmad Tyler, who led the Hawklets to two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, and end the game before the approaching severe weather brought it to a halt.
The Blue Jays accomplished both, and sprinted to the locker room to celebrate before it quite literally rained on their parade.
“(Rockhurst) is so good, and I have so much respect for them. I’m just proud of our guys to overcome that tonight with a big victory,” said Liberty coach Chad Frigon, who was on the sideline for that 1998 win over Rockhurst.
Cambric threw for 142 yards, with 115 going to Newland. The Blue Jays, after a two-week stumble, are back on track. Plus they leaped one major program hurdle.
“We knew that it meant more, especially to the coaches. This coaching staff has been here for a while,” Cambric said. “I think this is the only team they haven’t beat so far.
We knew this is the team that could do it. And it’s a great way to get us started back on a winning streak.”