Losing isn’t fun, and losing to your rivals makes it even worse.
South Carroll and Liberty have both experienced ups and downs in their recent all-time series matchups. The Lions came into Thursday’s contest looking for their fifth win in a row over the Cavaliers, who had reeled off eight consecutive victories prior to their latest slump (one of those was a postseason game).
And that slump was one to forget ― the Cavs were outscored by 139 points during that stretch. Simply put, South Carroll decided enough was enough.
Enjoying their third win in four games this season was one thing, but celebrating a 28-6 victory on Liberty’s field made things a little sweeter for the Cavs.
“Our team this year definitely has more enthusiasm. We actually want to be here and win,” said junior quarterback Ryan Barnard, who ran for two touchdowns and threw for another. “That plays a big role. … Hopefully we keep building our name. Hopefully we don’t get taken lightly.”
Barnard picked up up big chunks on the ground when the Cavs (3-1) needed first downs, and South Carroll’s offense capitalized on short fields throughout the game. Credit SC’s defense for setting things up.
The Cavaliers allowed 35 points in a Week 2 loss against Westminster. They’ve given up 17 points in the other three games combined.
Zach Bass snagged an interception in the first quarter Thursday, and several teammates spent time in Liberty’s backfield as the Lions’ offense sputtered. SC coach Mike Kraus said the focus was singular ― clamp down on all-county running back Tommy Nelson.
The junior had 17 carries, and seven of them went for negative yards (one was for no gain). Ryder Chalk and AJ Rodrigues served as Nelson’s spies on SC’s defense, Kraus said. Nelson entered the game second in Carroll in rushing with 368 yards.
Liberty’s lone scoring drive was aided by a pair of roughing-the-kicker penalties from SC. Lions quarterback Jack Pellicciotti hooked up with Sam Evans over the middle for a 20-yard touchdown strike in the second quarter.
Liberty (2-2) failed on its two-point conversion and trailed 7-6, only to see South Carroll put up 21 unanswered points the rest of the way. The Cavaliers opened the third quarter with a short drive, capped by a 6-yard scoring run from Barnard.
South Carroll’s ground game was effective, with Antonio Bradford rushing for more than 50 yards and Sam Lape surpassing 100 yards (unofficially) and adding a 14-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
Barnard put South Carroll on the scoreboard first with a screen pass to wide receiver Sean Hakanson, who caught it along Liberty’s sideline, followed a few blocks, and darted his way down the line for a 35-yard touchdown.
The noise emanating from the Cavaliers’ side of the field Thursday night seemed a little louder than usual, which is to be expected when you haven’t been on a positive end of a rivalry game since 2014.
“It feels really good,” said Kraus, who praised his coaching staff for having the Cavs ready this week with only two days of practice. “All phases of the game played outstanding.”
SC-Sean Hakanson 35 pass from Ryan Barnard (Austin Gidge kick)
L-Sam Evans 20 pass from Jack Pellicciotti (conversion failed)