TreShaun McDowell certainly looked like he was running with a purpose.
On a night of big plays, McDowell had a pair of them. He scored on a long run and a long pass, and Liberty defeated rival Sherman 40-6 Friday on homecoming night.
“I think Tre was hungry tonight,” Raiders coach Jeff Alexander said. “He had a few touchdowns called back — a couple down at PikeView and one down at Mount View last week — and I think he wanted those back.”
An important part of the Liberty offense, McDowell proved to be a threat every time he touched the ball. He ran twice for 88 yards and caught three passes for 84.
The missed opportunities of the last two weeks remained with McDowell.
“It makes you want to work hard and get them back,” he said. “I want to win and I’m running hard for my team.”
A sequence at the end of the first half proved huge for Liberty’s cause.
The Tide was marching late in the second quarter. Quarterback Joseph Jude completed passes of 20 yards to Josh Buffington and 13 to Austin Cooper to move Sherman to the Raiders 20-yard line.
A 10-yard keeper by Jude made it first-and-goal. But the drive began to stall when Jude threw incomplete and then was sacked on third down for an 11-yard loss. Jude then threw incomplete and the Raiders took over with :40.9 left before the break.
Rather than taking a knee, Liberty got aggressive. On second-and-10, Wright threw a screen to McDowell. The senior speedster broke a few tackles, got to the left sideline and was able to shake off a Sherman tackler’s attempt to shove him out of bounds.
McDowell did lose his balance, but he was able to walk the tightrope, staying inbounds for an 80-yard touchdown.
“It was real hard (to stay inbounds),” McDowell said. “I tried to stiff-arm him and I kind of slid over him, but I finally got him off me and I kind of tiptoed. (I stayed in) by a couple of inches.”
Josh Cook caught the two-point pass and the Raiders took a 27-6 lead into halftime.
McDowell’s score wasn’t his first big play. He also scored on a 77-yard run in the second quarter, avoiding three tackles before getting loose toward the end zone.
The whole first half was marked by big plays. The Raiders went ahead 6-0 when Jacob Bailey took a screen pass and outraced the defense for an 85-yard touchdown.
The Tide tied the game when Jude hit Braden Harrah on a slant, and Harrah went untouched for a 76-yard score.
The offenses got a little stagnant in the second half. Shotgun snaps flew over the quarterbacks’ heads, and neither team could muster much of a running game.
The Raiders were able to get through, thanks in part to their defense. Fumble recoveries by Austin Brown and Brendan Honaker ended Sherman drives.
Brown’s takeaway led to a 14-yard touchdown catch by Austin Roop that made the score 34-6 late in the third quarter.
Sammy Sluss scored on a 1-yard run with 8:49 left.
Wright was 12 of 19 for 263 yards and did not throw an interception. Whittaker ran for 75 yards on 11 carries.
Jude completed 12 of 24 passes for 166 yards. Kyle Davis carried 21 times for 82 yards.
Liberty will visit Webster County next Friday.
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S (1-3) 0 6 0 0 — 6
L (3-1) 6 21 7 6 — 40
L — Jacob Bailey 85 pass from Hunter Wright (kick failed), 4:58.
S — Braden Harrah 76 pass from Joseph Jude (run failed), 8:04.
L — TreShaun McDowell 77 run (pass failed), 7:40.
L: Christian Whittaker 36 run (Deontae Acord kick), 2:14.
L: McDowell 80 pass from Wright (Josh Cook pass from Wright), :19.6.
L: Austin Roop 14 pass from Wright (Acord kick), :09.2
L: Sammy Sluss 1 run (kick blocked), 8:49.
RUSHING — S, Kyle Davis 21-82, Jude 11-7, James Dickens 2-7, Willen Christian 1-3, Ben Salmons 2-1 Josh Buffington 1-0. L, McDowell 2-88, Whittaker 11-75, Wright 8-49, Trenton Begley 2-30, Sluss 4-5, Eric Workman 2-4.
PASSING — S, Jude 12-24-0-166, L, Wright 12-19-0-263, Begley 1-1-0-28.
RECEIVING — S, Harrah 6-99, Austin Cooper 3-16, Nathan Kirk 2-31, Buffington 1-20; L, Roop 5-49, McDowell 4-103, Bailey 2-99, Acord 1-28.
TAKEAWAYS — S, 2 FRs, L, Austin Brown (FR), Brendan Honaker (FR).