Panthers fall in opener
The Huffman-Hargraves Falcons took advantage of their speed and experience Friday night when they handed the Liberty Panthers a 28-0 loss in the season opener. Huffman had eight returning offensive players from a team that went all the way to the Regional Championship last year, their most successful season on record. Their returning senior quarterback Luke Thomas and senior receiver Gunnar Gates were a combination that Liberty’s excellent defense just couldn’t stop.
The Falcons racked up 268 total yards in a perfectly balanced attack. One hundred thirty-four on the ground, 134 through the air. They ran a total of 31 offensive plays. Their leading ball-carrier was Vernon “Peanut” Harrison, who had 60 yards on nine carries and two touchdowns. Quarterback Thomas was 8 for 13, passing for 134 yards and two touchdowns, and one interception. His leading receiver was senior Gunnar Gates with four catches for 103 yards.
The Liberty Panthers totaled 223 yards on 58 offensive plays. The standout player for the Panthers was newcomer senior Jolan Curtis. He gained 141 yards on 24 carries and was the workhorse of the Panther offense. Senior quarterback Austin Walker was 0 for four passing with one interception. Liberty had two outstanding offensive drives. One of 96 yards with Huffman denying them at the one-foot line and another 17-play, 58- yard drive that ended in a blocked field goal.
Huffman-Hargraves scored four unanswered touchdowns. The first came at the 9:36 mark of the 1st quarter. Running back “Peanut,” Harrison sprinted in from 22 yards out. Kicker Jonathon Klepetko was good on the point-after, and the Falcons had a 7-0 lead. They followed with a 22-yard scoring strike from Thomas to Tyler Wilkins with 6:04 showing on the 1st quarter clock. Harrison did it again with 5:00 left in the 2nd quarter. He scampered in from 37 yards out, and the extra point brought the score to 21-0 Falcons at the half. Huffman would score once more in the 4th quarter. Luke Thomas hit Ashton Fischer for 15 yards and a touchdown at the 4:23 mark of quarter number 4. The PAT was good again, bringing the score to 28-0 Huffman-Hargraves which was the final score.
The Panthers travel again next week to Madisonville to take on the Mustangs. The game time is 7:30 pm.