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Sports · November 10, 2012

Eagles finally top Warriors, advance to regional semis

Photos/John Huggins
Liberty senior quarterback Tyler Longerbeam completed 5 of 8 passes for 136 yards and two TDs.
Eagle senior defensive end Wyatt Teller tackles Sherando quarterback Taylor Loudan, who had 259 yards in total offense.
First-year Head Coach Sean Finnerty and his team savor the victory in Stephens City.
By Stephen Boyle
Special to

Heading into Friday’s regional playoff game, Liberty had lost nine a row to Sherando. But this time, the Eagles prevailed.

Liberty ended the Warriors' season, 27-10, in Stephens City.

“We didn’t change the game plan that much, we just executed better,” Liberty Coach Sean Finnerty explained after the game. “It’s on our kids.”

Liberty jumped out to a 6-0 lead near the end of the first quarter when quarterback Tyler Longerbeam threw a 35-yard touchdown pass to Rodman Munson.

But the Warriors responded with two scoring drives in the second quarter.

Sherando’s Tylar Clowser made a 25-yard field goal to pull the Warriors within 3.

A Wyatt Teller fumble set up Sherando at the Liberty 45-yard line on the Warriors’ next possession. George Aston finished the seven-play drive with a 7-yard touchdown, giving his team a 10-6 lead.

Aston had 86 rushing yards on 18 carries. He and fellow senior Taylor Loudan led the Warrior offensive attack. Loudan rushed for 145 yards on 27 carries and passed for 114 yards.

But, Liberty answered.

A 27-yard pass from Longerbeam to Ian Vowels gave Liberty a 14-10 lead with 2:10 remaining in the first half. Longerbeam completed 5 of his 8 passes for 136 yards and two touchdowns.

After his second scoring pass, Sherando got the ball with time winding down in the first half. The Warriors picked up a first down with less than a minute remaining in the second quarter, but then Liberty forced a punt.

Eagle junior Garrett Utterback came off the edge, blocked the Warriors’ punt and recovered the ball. Utterback tried to scoop and score. But, after failing to pick up the ball on the run, he just fell on it.

“I was happy we got our offense back on the field,” said Utterback. “But I should’ve scored.”

The turnover resulted in a Liberty field goal and a 17-10 halftime lead.

“The three points isn’t as big as the momentum was,” Finnerty said of the blocked punt.

That seemed to carry into the second half.

Liberty shut out the Warriors in the final two quarters, although Clowser did miss a 25-yard field goal.

The Eagles added two second-half scores to make the final 27-10.

Senior running back Aristotle Howard found the end zone on a five-yard run and Ryan Morris converted on a 31-yard field goal attempt.

Although the regional quarterfinal gave Liberty its first win over Sherando in their last 10 meetings, Coach Finnerty said the Eagles have always felt capable of beating the Warriors. They finally proved it Friday night.

“It’s shocking,” said Utterback of the win. “We got redemption, and it just feels good.”

Liberty 6 11 0 10 — 27
Sherando 0 10 0 0 — 10

Scoring summary

First quarter

Liberty — Munson, 35-yard pass from Longerbeam; kick failed, 0:41

Second quarter

Sherando — Clowser 25 field goal, 7:28

Sherando — Aston 7 run; Clowser kick, 3:16

Liberty — Vowels 27 pass from Longerbeam; Morris run, 2:10

Liberty — Morris 31 field goal, 0:00

Fourth quarter

Liberty — Howard 5 run (Morris kick), 11:39

Liberty — Morris 31 field goal, 2:49

Liberty Sherando

First downs 12 21
Rushes-yards 35-116 45-231
Passing yards 136 114
Passing 5-8-2-0 9-23-0-0
Punts-Avg. 4-48.75 4-29
Fumbles-lost 1-1 1-0
Penalties-yards 3-25 7-55

RUSHING: Sherando, Loudan 27-145, Aston 18-86. Liberty, Howard 16-50, Teller 4-26, Hogan 4-26, Sinclair 1-11, Chiccehitto 2-5, Longerbeam 8-minus 2.

Sherando, Loudan 9-21-0-0, Ojo, 0-2-0-0. Liberty, Longerbeam 5-8-2-0.

RECEIVING: Sherando, Wagner 3-24, Aston 2-19, Clowser 1-25, Whitaker 1-13. Liberty, Utterback 2-56, Munson 1-35, Vowels 1-27, Howard 1-18.
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