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Panthers get Homecoming win over Shepherd

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    Liberty’s Austin Walker keeps the ball in the Panthers big Homecoming victory of the Shepherd Pirates Kaylee Tanton – Panther Paw News

The Liberty Panthers won their third game in a row Friday night and improved their season record to 3 and 1 by defeating the Shepherd Pirates 21-10. Several big plays by Liberty and their tough defense proved too much for the boys from San Jacinto County. Liberty put up 233 yards on 39 plays from scrimmage. Their leading rusher was senior Jolan Curtis, who had 72 yards on 12 carries. Quarterback Kaden Nolan was 1 for 6 passing. That one reception, however, was a 28-yard touchdown pass to senior Mason Goudeau. The Panthers were penalized 3 times for 23 yards. They also fumbled 3 times, losing 2 of them. Liberty’s key to success was again their defense that held Shepherd to just 131 yards, forced 5 punts and 3 turnovers-on-downs. The leading Pirate ground-gainer was freshman Preston Stephens with 12 carries for 49 yards and a touchdown. Shepherd was penalized 5 times for 45 yards. Junior Quarterback HD Green was 2 for 12 passing with one interception.

Liberty began the scoring after holding the Pirates to a 3-and-out on the first possession. On their 4th play, senior Austin Walker galloped in from 37 yards out. Shimp’s PAT attempt failed after a low snap, but Liberty led 6-0 at the 9:10 mark of the 1st period. Shepherd answered on their next possession. They put together a 13-play, 64-yard drive. Freshman running back Preston Stephens capped the drive with a 16-yard run. The Pirates went for 2 and were successful, bringing the score to 8-6 Pirates with 1:14 left in the first quarter. The Panthers then put together an 8-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a 28-yard pass to Mason Goudeau from Nolan. The 2-point conversion was good, and Liberty led 14-8 with 9:02 remaining in the half. Both teams’ defenses then bowed their necks, and the rest of the half ended in a punting demonstration by both teams.

Liberty received the opening kick-off of the second half but fumbled the ball back to Shepherd on their 3rd play. Liberty’s defense held, and Shepherd again turned it over-on-downs. But the Pirate defense did the same. After both teams put together excellent defensive stands, Shepherd punted and pinned the Panthers back on their own 1-yard line. The next play resulted in a safety by the Pirates, and the score was 14-10. After 3 consecutive defensive gems by both teams, Liberty finally broke through. QB Kaden Nolan ran in from 33 yards out on a keeper. Shimp’s PAT was good, and Liberty led 21-10 at the 4:08 mark of the 4th quarter. Shepherd scared the home team by recovering a fumble late in the quarter, but Green was intercepted, and Liberty ran out the clock. Final score: Liberty 21-Shepherd 10.

The Panthers open district play next week at home, taking on the Hardin-Jefferson Hawks. Game time: 7:30