Unlike his last game against Raymore-Peculiar, Liberty quarterback A.J. Cambric didn’t get to relax during halftime of Friday’s Missouri Class 6, District 4 quarterfinal.
Instead, he was still catching his breath and rallying his teammates moments after leading an 11-play, 72-yard scoring drive to finally put third-seeded Liberty on the scoreboard with 30 seconds to go in the half.
He wasn’t done.
Cambric passed for three more second-half touchdowns as the Blue Jays surged to a 35-6 win over sixth-seeded Ray-Pec at William Jewell.
All that after going scoreless for the first 23 1/2 minutes of the game.
Compared to Liberty’s 47-14 win at Ray-Pec on Sept. 6 in which the first play was an 80-yard Cambric touchdown pass to Jackson Redmond, this start was glacial.
“I think some of us came out expecting (to score quickly),” said Cambric, who went 13 for 21 for 224 yards and four touchdowns. “When we didn’t, we teetered a little bit and got a little frustrated.”
Despite holding a two-to-one yardage advantage before scoring, turnovers on successive drives into Ray-Pec territory kept Liberty out of the end zone and gave the Panthers, 3-7, hope.
First, Devon Bryant, who accounted for 104 total yards, fumbled at the Ray-Pec 1 to end the first quarter, Then Cambric was pressured and picked off by Baylee Custer.
The Blue Jays finally found their footing when they got the ball back with 3:44 left in the half. Cambric went five for seven for 68 yards and rushed for 17 of his 67 yards on a pair of draws during the dive that ended with a third-and-1 quick snap and play-action fake before Cambric connected with Jakoby Swanson for a 15-yard touchdown slant.
“(Cambric) threw the ball on time and actually hurt us with his feet,” Ray-Pec coach Tom Kruse said. “Our inability to put any points on the board in the first half, and we had some opportunities, was probably the key to that.”
In his earlier game against Ray-Pec, Cambric didn’t return to the huddle after throwing for 197 yards and three touchdowns by halftime.
This time, he hung around until early in the fourth quarter and Liberty ahead 28-6.
By then, Cambric added TD passes of 31 and 35 yards to Brady Newland and a 33-yard scoring completion to Redmond.
For Cambric and the Blue Jays, who play at No. 2 Lee’s Summit in the district semifinals next Friday, he timing was different, but the outcome the same.