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Panthers throttle Hardin-Jefferson

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    Liberty’s O-line and Titus Bell lead the way blocking for Panther ballcarrier Mason Goudeau in their romp over the Hardin-Jefferson Hawks. The Vindicator | Robert Ward
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    Brian “Ice Man” Montes boots one of his seven extra points on the night. The Vindicator | Robert Ward

The Liberty Panthers improved their season record to 4 and 1 Friday night in a 49-0 rout of the Hardin-Jefferson Hawks. Liberty lived up to their motto of “all gas, no brakes,” as they seemingly scored at will. Once again, the Panther defense stymied their opposition allowing only 57 yards in the first half. This, along with the play of the Panther special teams, allowed Liberty to put 35 points on the board by half-time. The Pan thers’ outstanding player of the game was Mason Goudeau, who had 60 yards rushing, 82 yards receiving, and two touchdowns. Senior Jolan “North Shore” Curtis was the leading Panther runner, who gained 97 yards on 9 carries. This was quite an accomplishment seeing that Liberty had 7 ball carriers who all were in double-digits rushing. Liberty’s offense racked up 428 yards on 49 offensive plays. Quarterback Kaden Nolan was 3 for 6, passing for 82 yards and 2 touchdowns. Liberty fumbled twice, losing 1, and were penalized 4 times for 40 yards. Friday night also saw the return of placekicker Brian Montes who was perfect on all 7 extra points.

The Hawks couldn’t solve the Panther defense and could only muster 108 total yards. Quarterback Brady Trotter was 4 for 13, passing for 53 yards throwing 1 interception. They also lost 2 of 3 fumbles, one of which being recovered in the end zone by Liberty’s Landon Curry. This occurred on a kick-off by Liberty that the Hawk return man touched and allowed to go into the endzone, thinking it was a touch-back. Curry raced into the endzone to recover the ball for Liberty’s 3rd score of the night.

Liberty began the scoring at the 1:00 minute mark of the 1st quarter. Mason Goudeau punched it in from 5 yards out. The PAT was good, and the Panthers were off and running with a 7-0 start. Liberty’s defense held and forced a punt. Alex Valtierra capped an 86-yard drive with a 16-yard touchdown run, and the Panthers were ahead 14-0 at the 5:57 mark of the 2nd quarter. Five seconds later, Landon Curry recovered the fumble in the endzone. At the 1:57 mark of the 2nd, Dra’Core Bankhead went in from the 3, PAT good to make it 28-0. Then with 0:51 seconds left in the half, Mason Goudeau made a diving catch of a 32 yard Nolan pass to bring the score to 35-0 at intermission.

The second half saw the same defensive domination. Hardin-Jefferson received the 2nd-half kickoff only to be intercepted on their 3rd play. Liberty’s Gavin Fontenot scored on the first play on a 21-yard pass from Kaden Nolan with10:23 showing in the 3rd quarter. Liberty’s Jolan Curtis showed his breakaway speed on a 55- yard scoring run at the 4:35 mark of the 4th quarter. As stated before, placekicker Brian “Ice Man” Montes was perfect on all 7 extra-point attempts, and Liberty came home a 49-0 winner.

This makes them 4 and 1 on the season and 1 and 0 in District 11-4A. The Panthers travel to Silsbee next Friday night to take on the always tough Silsbee Tigers. Game time, 7:30.