In facing Center, the Liberty Ranch Hawks were looking to even the score from last year’s loss to Center.
Throughout the team’s rematch on Aug. 30, however, the Cougars took nearly every opportunity it could to profit from failed Hawk possessions.
“You can’t make mistakes playing good teams,” Liberty Ranch football coach Anthony Linebaugh said after the game.
The Hawks experienced a turnover on downs in their first possession of the game. Within two minutes, the Cougars’ Brandon Bernandes scored on a touchdown pass and took a 6-0 lead.
The Hawks later moved the ball into Center territory but Cam Denham intercepted a Hawk pass with one minute left.
That possession would end in a 14-yard touchdown run with 11:11 left in the second quarter and a two-point conversion pass for a 14-0 game.
After a Hawk punt, the Cougars’ Michael Wortham scored quickly, followed by a PAT with 9:03 left in the second quarter.
The Hawks ended up punting before Center eventually threw a 54-yard touchdown pass to Latrell Harris and the Cougars took a 28-0 lead with 7:20 left.
Center finally put itself in a situation where the Hawks could grab an extra chance to score, as the Cougars fumbled and the Hawks recovered the ball at its own 27-yard line.
The Cougars quickly made up for that error, however, when Harris intercepted the ball with 1:32 at Center’s 29-yard line.
Incomplete passes marred that possession, however, and time ran out to leave the Hawks within 28-0 at halftime.
The Hawks’ defense continued to make good plays in the opening possession of the third quarter, tackling the Cougars in the back field and only allowing minimal gains before the Cougars gave the ball up to the Hawks.
Both teams would fail on their next possessions before the Hawks fumbled with 2:34 left to set the Cougars up for an eventual Wortham touchdown for a 35-0 lead with 1:12 left.
In the fourth quarter, the Hawks encountered more hurdles as another pass was intercepted and Center moved the ball to the Hawk one-yard line before scoring with about 7:22 left (the game had a running clock during the fourth quarter) for their final touchdown.
After a few passes and runs by the Hawks, they scored with 1:57 left on a two-yard run by Gabriel Simoes. Damian Ochoa kicked the point after for the 42-7 final score.
“We got a lot of work to do,” Linebaugh said afterward.
The Hawks will shift their focus this week to Amador, to whom they lost 28-6 last season and will try to make up for that loss Friday at home.
In referring to Friday’s loss and the team’s potential, Linebaugh was positive.
“I really think this team has a chance to get better,” said Linebaugh.
The Hawks will take on Amador, who is 1-0 after defeating Orland 34-10 last week, at 7:30 p.m.