MARRIOTTSVILLE — For the first 14 minutes of Friday’s Class 2A West Region semifinal matchup against Oakdale, Liberty made a statement.
Riding only the fifth 10-0 regular season in Carroll County football history, the Lions jumped out to a 14-0 lead, silencing the opposing crowd.
But they only could contain one of the state’s most potent offenses for so long.
Collin Schlee found his form and the Oakdale offense regained its rhythm, scoring 38 unanswered points, en route to a 38-14 victory.
Liberty (10-1) was set to host Friday night’s matchup at home but the game was moved to Marriotts Ridge High School for use of its turf field.
Oakdale (10-0) saw similar success in their neighboring county. The Bears dominated their way through county play, averaging 45.7 points per game while outscoring opponents 411-67.
On the opening drive, the Lions marched 80 yards on 11 plays.
Behind the aid of his offensive line, quarterback Nate Kent dove into the end zone from 1-yard out to open up the scoresheet for both teams.
The junior found himself on the lucky side after a 32-yard pass was bobbled by an Oakdale defender, only to land in the hands of Jack Bulakites.
Mistakes on a rainy night hindered the Bears early on as Liberty was able to take advantage.
One minute into the second quarter, Kent rolled to his left and found Mike Spitz wide open past the Oakdale defense. The 35-yard pitch-and-catch set up Liberty within scoring distance and Nick Henderson doubled the Lions’ lead with an 8-yard touchdown score.
When Schlee, a Kent State commit, settled in during the second quarter, Oakdale never looked back.
He connected with Ethan Reifer in the back corner of the end zone on a 13-yard pass an a 29-yard field goal from Jordan Ritter brought the Bears within three points.
Following a quick three-and-out from Liberty and with seconds remaining before the half, Schlee evaded a defender, rolled to his left and heaved a 55-yard bomb that fell into the hands of Blake Baxter in a crowded end zone.
The last-second touchdown gave Oakdale a 17-14 halftime lead and much-needed momentum, that carried over into the final two quarters.
Simeon Sabvute found open field and helped fuel an 88-yard drive for Oakdale out of the half.
The senior running back totaled over 100 yards on the ground and took the handoff from Schlee, finding the end zone on a 4-yard run.
Touchdown runs from Sabvute, Wyatt McKoy, and Maurio Goings lead a run-heavy attack for the Bears, as they extended their lead 38-14 with 9:40 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Liberty’s offense struggled to sustain drives and Kent found himself on the turf with a strong Oakdale pass rush breaking through the line.
The Lions’ best scoring chance came midway through the third quarter after a Sabvute muffed punt gave them the ball on the Oakdale 30-yard line. But a pair of incomplete passes and a sack resulted in a turnover on downs.
Oakdale advances to the 2A West final next Friday and will face Damascus in one of the most anticipated playoff matchups in the area.
Liberty suffers a first-round exit for a second straight season, but the momentum of a strong fall will likely provide positive building blocks for coach Larry Luthe moving forward.
Oakdale 0 17 14 7 — 38
Liberty 7 7 0 0 — 14
L- Nate Kent 1 run (Sean Disbrow kick)
L-Nick Henderson 8 run (Disbrow kick)
O-Ethan Reifer 13 pass from Collin Schlee (Justin Ritter kick)
O-Justin Ritter 29 field goal
O-Blake Baxter 55 pass from Schlee (Ritter kick)
O-Simeon Sabvute 4 run (Ritter kick)
O-Wyatt McKoy 1 run (Ritter kick)
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O-Maurio Goings 1 run (Ritter kick)