Undefeated Liberty runs past Colonels

WINCHESTER — Each coach had it about right Friday night.
“I thought we played well for about a quarter-and-a-half, but after that, things came a little unraveled,” said James Wood first-year coach Ryan Morgan.
“I didn’t think we were into it at first, but I got about two-and-a-half quarters from them tonight,” added Liberty veteran head man Sean Finnerty.
Indeed, for about 15 minutes at Jerry Kelican Stadium on homecoming night, the Colonels competed, stopping the bigger and more talented Eagles, but unable to put points on the board.
Then, Liberty answered with 48 straight to set the final at 48-0, the Eagles’ third shutout of the year.
Before a bye week, the Colonels faced another flock of Eagles — these from Hedgesville, W.Va. Those birds dropped James Wood 28-23. The same night Liberty squawked past Sherando 31-28.
In the season opener, the Colonels had lost to the Warriors 58-8.
“I guess you could say they took us kind of lightly, but we were able to jump on them, which was really nice. We just couldn’t make it hold up,” said Morgan.
“Maybe we underestimated them a little bit, I’m not sure,” said Finnerty, whose team improved to 6-0, 2-0 in the Class 4 Northwestern District. “But I do know that James Wood has the ability to come out and ‘hit you in the mouth,’ which is what they did to us. They’ve always been that way.”
James Wood certainly had its chances in the first half. Luke Roy recovered a Liberty fumble at the Colonels’ 43.
Wood went for a touchdown on the subsequent fourth-down play, which followed an eight-play drive.
Liberty dropped an interception in the end zone to thwart the James Wood possession that ended at the Eagles’ 34.
After they forced a punt, the Colonels offense drove from their 32 to the Eagles’ 1 as the first period ended in a scoreless tie.
Wood (2-4, 0-2) had three cracks inches from the goal line, but failed to convert to open the second period.
The Wood defense stopped Liberty on the 2 and a poor punt set the Colonels up on the visitors’ 38.
“I think that goal-line stand kind of turned things around,” said Finnerty. “Even though we had to punt, I think it got us in the right frame of mind.”
After an exchange of possessions Loy blocked a Liberty punt, but the Colonels lost possession while trying to make the recovery.
That seemed to flip the switch for Liberty.
Two plays later (with a face-mask penalty mixed in), Lester Parker III bowled over from the 3 and the Eagles led 7-0 with 5:07 left in the half.
A bad punt gave Liberty the ball at the Colonels 22. On second down, Markael Gaskins dashed 22 on an inside reverse for the score that made it 14-0 with 2:49 to go in the half.
Liberty got the ball back with 71 seconds remaining in the half and it took 59 ticks to score. Michael Chiccehitto scored from 15 yards out to make it 21-0 at the half.
The Eagles poured it on in the second half. Quarterback Jacob Chinault found tight end Hunter Makely with a 32-yard TD strike to make it 28-0.
Parker got the running clock moving following touchdown runs of 15 and 42 yards. Finally reserve Ed Mangum followed up his own interception with a 39-yard TD rush at the 1:31 mark.
Parker racked up 124 yards on 15 carries.
The Colonels are back in action Friday as they host unbeaten Millbrook at 7 p.m. at Jerry Kelican Stadium.