ELDERSBURG — The Freedom Bell will remain at Liberty for a fourth straight season.
Liberty hosted Century in the 19th meeting between the crosstown rivals and the Lions defeated Knights 34-9.
The Lions swarmed the Freedom Bell trophy once the post-game handshakes concluded and the players each took turns ringing it loud for all to hear. Senior quarterback Nate Kent helped lead the Lions with nine passes for 138 yards and three touchdowns (unofficially).
Kent added seven carries for 67 yards and a touchdown on the ground as well. Tommy Nelson had 14 carries for 141 yards and a touchdown for the Lions (1-2, 1-0 in the Carroll County Athletic League).
Liberty senior Chris Smith was brought down in the end zone by Century’s defense for a safety, but the Lions responded by forcing a three-and-out and concluded their next drive when senior quarterback Nate Kent found Smith for a 13-yard touchdown to put the Lions up 6-2.
Landon Bruce, a Century junior, picked up a crucial 49-yard run for the Knights, but two plays later, the Lions’ defense chased down Century quarterback Brady Crumbacker in the backfield and recovered a fumble to regain possession.
Kent tossed a pass on a fake-punt play to teammate Paul Libbee for a 15-yard gain with less than eight minutes left in the second quarter, and Kent connected with senior receiver Peyton Scheufele for an 18-yard touchdown and a successful two-point conversion to put the host team up 14-2.
Bruce notched a pair of carries for Century, but the Knights went three-and-out and Liberty responded with a six-play drive of 52 yards to find the end zone again, thanks to a 1-yard rush from Kent.
Liberty led Century 21-2 at the half. Kent found senior receiver Mike Spitz for a 15-yard touchdown early in the third quarter and the 28-2 score stood through the remainder of the quarter.
Century found its spark in Dereik Crosby, who broke through the Lions’ defense for a 34-yard touchdown to bring the Knights within 19, 28-9. Nelson rushed in for a score in the fourth quarter and intercepted Crumbacker’s pass with three minutes left to seal the county-opening victory for the Lions, and their first this season.
The teams met twice in 2008, once in Week 10 and again in the regional semifinals. The Knights won both of those meetings en route to an appearance in the state semifinals and still lead the all-time series 11-8.