DAMASCUS — Playing football for Liberty has been “a family like no other” for Lions senior Kevin Lynch.
The Lions entered their playoff game against Damascus prepared, but proved to be no match for the undefeated Hornets in a 35-0 loss in a Class 2A West Region semifinal Friday.
It was the 39th straight victory for the Hornets (11-0), and the Lions saw their season end in the first round for a second straight year, closing out the season 8-3.
“Defensively, we had a couple breakdowns and offensively it took us a long time and we never found our rhythm, something that we could do well against them,” Lions coach Larry Luthe said. “Hats off to them, they’re a very good football team and when you play a good football team you have to find something you do well, and we just weren’t able to do that.”
Lions quarterback Nolan Karfonta was intercepted by Javier Smith early in the first half and the Hornets carried the ball on six plays until running back Ben Lokos burst down the field on a 46-yard run to the end zone to give the Hornets their first score of the game.
The Hornets scored on every drive except for two in the first half — the game-opener, and late in the first quarter when quarterback John Allen Furgeson was intercepted by Justin Pellicciotti.
Pellicciotti leads the county in interceptions with six, and the pick came with 1:28 left in the quarter. Luthe said Pellicciotti, a junior, didn’t play the first two to three games due to a knee injury.
“He’s got great ball skills and he covers really well,” Luthe said. “Him being healthy was huge for us and he’s made big plays for us all season long and the most exciting thing is he’s back next year, so that’s good for us.”
It was 35-0 at the half, which allowed for a running clock in the second. The Lions didn’t allow another score through the remainder of the game.
Lokos and running back Evan Purkey both finished with two touchdowns, and TD Ayo-Durojaiye added a 25-yard score for the Hornets.
“We came out fired up and played with them for basically the first quarter,” Lynch said. “It was silly mistakes, a lack of focus and execution and missed tackles.”
The Hornets (11-0) are the two-time reigning 3A state champions and moved down to 2A this year. They will host Walkersville (11-0), the reigning 2A state champions, in the region final next Friday.
Liberty’s season ended short of a championship, but the Lions are 17-5 over the past two years.
“I’m not going to lie, we were a little worried about the leadership of the senior class and they went above and beyond our expectations,” Luthe said. “They committed to the weight room, they committed to each other and they have left their legacy at Liberty High School and I’m proud to call them alumni of our program and I look forward to seeing what they do in the future.”
“We’ve got heart, we all love each other and we all fight for each other,” Lions senior Noah Rohrer added.