Liberty junior Nick Henderson talks about his 90-yard touchdown in the win over St. Paul's.
Talk about pressure.
Liberty sophomore kicker Sean Disbrow booted a 25-yard field goal with 1:40 remaining to lift the Lions to 10-7 victory over host St. Paul's School in the season opener for both teams.
Liberty junior running back/outside linebacker Nick Henderson also joined in on the fun, returning sophomore McClain Butler's blocked punt 90 yards for a touchdown late in the second quarter.
"Does it get any better than Sean kicking the game-winner?" Liberty coach Larry Luthe said. "It's his first year on the varsity and he loves being the kicker. He works at in all the time and he went to kicking camps this summer."
Sophomore Michael Spitz gave the Lions a spark on their last possession as his 17-yard punt return helped set up the winning score.
Liberty started its drive at the St. Paul's 35 and on the 11th play of series, Disbrow came through.
"I thought the seniors did a great of keeping everybody focused and together," said Luthe, whose team had 145 yards of total offense. "They showed a lot of leadership. Everybody on the sideline was positive. They were like, 'We are going to get this done.'"
It took a while into the first half for the Lions to make their presence felt.
After Noah Rohrer took the opening kickoff 35 yards, Liberty moved down to the St. Paul's 24-yard line in eight plays before quarterback Nolan Karfonta's pass on fourth-and-5 fell incomplete to a diving Nick Karfonta inside the 10.
St. Paul's scored on its first drive, going 93 yards in 11 plays.
Crusaders' quarterback Kevin Madden rushed for two first downs on the series — including one for 25 yards when running back Jack Parr got pinned in the backfield on a sweep and tossed the ball to his quarterback.
Later on the drive, Madden hit Quizzon Tarver in the right corner of the end zone for an 18-yard touchdown with 2:11 left in the first quarter.
The rest of the first half belonged to St. Paul's before Butler blocked Owen Grandy's 28-yard field goal attempt.
Henderson recovered the ball and returned it for a score with 4:05 remaining in the second quarter.
"He is a first-year junior," Luthe said of Henderson. "He jumped on it and took it down the field for a touchdown. He didn't hesitate. It was like he knew what he was doing."
St. Paul's threatened to score in the final seconds of the first half, but Liberty's defense forced three incomplete passes and a trio of Lion defenders sacked Madden.
The Lions’ defense also shined in the third quarter as Zach Morris and Tanner Parrott each recorded sacks. They finished with four.
Spitz also had an interception in the quarter.
“We think our line is our strong point and they come off the ball hard,” Luthe said.
Liberty will take its momentum into a road game Friday at Walkersville, the reigning Class 2A state champion.
“We have improvements to make,” Henderson said. “We didn’t play our best. But that’s football and we just have to get better every week.”