BRENTWOOD — For the first time in the 11-year rivalry between cross-town schools, Liberty beat Heritage without needing to come from behind in the fourth quarter. Instead, the Lions held on inside the 10-yard line, securing a 17-14 win when a fourth-down pass fell incomplete with 11 seconds remaining.
With 5:41 left in the game, Heritage (5-1, 0-1 Bay Valley Athletic League)quarterback Luke Lang connected with Josh Wishom for a 33-yard touchdown, cutting Liberty’s 17-7 lead to three. After Jett Stanley came up with a big third-down sack on the next possession, Heritage took over at its own 39-yard line with 2:47 left in the game.
A 12-yard run by Aidan Quinn moved the ball to midfield, then Lang scrambled to the Liberty 37-yard line, where he was hit late out of bounds moved the ball to the Lions’ 22. Two plays, Lang found Moises Cortez on the right sideline, who got down to the 6-yard line, giving Heritage a first-and-goal situation.
Quinn gained two yards on first down. That was followed another two-yard run by Quinn on second down, moving the ball to 2, where Lang’s third-down pass was dropped in the end zone.
On fourth-and-goal, a false start penalty pushed the Patriots back to the 7-yard line, where Lang’s pass intended for the end zone fell incomplete, setting off a raucous celebration on the Liberty sideline, as the visiting team won for the sixth straight year.
“Our defense did this two weeks in a row now,” said Liberty coach Ryan Partridge, also referencing last week’s win over Tracy. “They are bending, but not breaking. Bottom line is they got the job done and played a heck of a game.”
Liberty bolted to an early 7-0 when Ryan Dutt found Jack Hodgson for a 36-yard touchdown pass just over two minutes into the first quarter. The Lions had a chance to extend the lead on their next possession, but a field goal attempt fell short. Heritage then responded by driving 80 yards, capped by Lang’s 36-yard touchdown pass to Wishom to tie the game.
Liberty (5-1, 1-0 Bay Valley Athletic League) took the lead back going into the half, driving from its own 20-yard line and getting a 24-yard field goal by Jake Croteau with 24 seconds left in the second quarter.
After forcing a punt on Heritage’s first drive of the third quarter, Liberty drove 69 yards on its first possession of the half, as Dutt connected with a leaping Zane Hinojosa for the 37-yard touchdown pass.
The Patriots drove down to the Liberty 27-yard line early in the fourth quarter, but the Lions’ Esteban Davila thwarted the drive with a sack on fourth down.
In the end, with the game on the line, Liberty’s defense responded to preserve the victory, despite 322 yards of offense from the host Patriots.
“It wasn’t me tonight, it was our defense,” Dutt said. “They had to come up with four big stops there at the end, and they came through with all four of them.”
Dutt finished the game with 121 yards and two touchdown passes.
Hinojosa was Liberty’s leading receiver with three catches for 119 yards, including the touchdown. Tyerell Sturges-Cofer carried the ball 19 times for 100 yards to lead Liberty’s ground game.
Quinn paced the Heritage attack on the ground, carrying the ball 29 times for 128 yards. Lang completed 12 of 24 passes for 145 yards and two touchdowns. Wishom had four catches for 88 yards and both scores.
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