Liberty won just one game a year ago, but has been one of the surprise stories of the season as it put itself in playoff contention.
But in one of their biggest games of the year to date, things did not look good for the Redhawks at halftime on Friday. Not only was Liberty without the services of sophomore sensation quarterback Keldric Luster, they also trailed 28-17 against a Lebanon Trail team who is one of its main competitors for the postseason.
But the Redhawks dug deep and found a way, as Will Glatch stepped in at quarterback, where he started a year ago before moving to defense, and helped them rally for a 40-35 victory as they improved to 5-2 overall, and more importantly, 4-1 in district.
Jonathan Bone had a huge game for Liberty, rushing for 200 yards and two touchdowns and it was his 64-yard run to the end zone that opened the scoring.
After the Trail Blazers (2-2, 4-2) got a scoring run by Gregory Hatley, the Redhawks came right back with a 100-yard kickoff return from Chris Johnson to take a 14-7 lead.
But the rest of the half belonged to Lebanon Trail, who got touchdown runs of 18 and 26 yards from A.J. Sibley and a 5-yard scoring pass from Drew Martin to Hatley to take a 28-17 halftime lead.
Bone got Liberty back on track to start the second half with a 72-yard touchdown run, Evan Moros kicked a field goal and Jack Bryan added a score to take a 33-28 lead.
Bryan added another score on a 48-yard run to make it 40-28 and the Redhawks were able to hold off a final push.
Memorial (0-4, 1-5) was hoping to put together a late-season charge, but its playoff hopes might have faded for good after a 56-28 loss to Lovejoy.
R.W. Rucker was an efficient 15-of-18 passing for 273 yards and three touchdowns for the Leopards, who remain undefeated at 6-0 overall and 4-0 in 7-5A Division II.
Isaiah Smith and Phillip Joest each rushed for a pair of touchdowns and Reid Westervelt had seven catches for 153 yards and two scores as Lovejoy edged ahead of idle Frisco (3-0, 5-0) for sole possession of first place.
Ethan Lollar threw for 186 yards and two touchdowns, J’Kolbe Bulock had two scoring grabs and Tyler Arnold added another for the Warriors.
Lovejoy and Frisco are scheduled for a showdown in two weeks, but they have tests to pass this week.
The Raccoons have a dangerous game against a solid Denison team (3-1, 4-2), while the Leopards take on Lake Dallas (0-4, 1-5).
Liberty gets the week off, Lebanon Trail has an important game against Princeton (1-1, 2-2) and Memorial plays at Prosper Rock Hill.