Liberty went into last night's game at Howard High with an 0-2 record, but Howard head coach John Quinn wasn't taking the Lions lightly.
"I knew what was coming," Quinn said after Liberty gave Howard (3-0) a tough time before losing, 23-12. "[Liberty coach] Ken Johnson is a wing-T guru and one of the premier coaches in the state, so they didn't surprise me. They have a nice team."
Liberty had no trouble moving the ball from the outset. The visitors opened the game with a 17-play, 56-yard drive that consumed 9:23. Brandon Scarborough carried the ball three times for 32 yards.
The drive ended when Guy Smith caused a fumble on a lateral to Darnell Brockington and recovered it at the Howard 9-yard line.
Six plays later, on fourth-and-two, junior quarterback Dalawn Parrish called a sneak, broke several tackles and outran the secondary to score on a 56-yard run. Andy Holloway missed wide right on the extra-point try.
"Dalawn is a nice player, I can't say enough good things about him," said Quinn. "That first sneak was a case of a couple guys slipping and falling and missing some tackles. But later on, he made some nice option moves. He's just a tough kid."
Liberty tied the game 28 seconds before the end of the first half. Scarborough scored on a 14-yard run through the right side of the Howard defense. The slippery sophomore back made a brilliant move on safety Parrish inside the 5-yard line.
Howard took just 3:43 to take the lead back for good. Senior running back Guy Smith (67 yards on 11 carries) crashed in from the 2-yard line to cap the drive, and Parrish hit Brian Bush for the two-point conversion.
Howard increased the lead to 21-6 with 1:31 left in the third period. After stopping Liberty quarterback John Barnowski on a fourth-and-one sneak, Smith carried twice for 19 yards, setting up Parrish (8 carries, 86 yards) for a 1-yard dive. Andy Holloway made the extra point.
Tyson Daves tacked on a safety for the winners by blocking a Scarborough punt out of the end zone.
Liberty scored its final touchdown with 30 seconds remaining. Following a fumble recovery deep in Howard territory by defensive end Mike Towers, the visitors scored on a 9-yard run by Scarborough, who finished with 92 yards on 13 attempts. Liberty's Barnowski left the game early in the fourth quarter with a separated shoulder.
"My kids had such an easy time in their first two games [42-0 over Parkville and 40-0 over North Carroll] that it was hard to convince them that this game would be a step up. What saved us was the fact that we have athletes who are just a little faster than they are," said Quinn.