Liberty's home win streak -- now at 18 games -- remains intact after a 51-20 demolition of highly touted Scottsdale (AZ) Saguaro on Saturday in Henderson, Nevada.
The visiting Sabercats (1-1) were riding high following an opening week victory over Tucson (AZ) Catalina Foothills that ran their win streak to 26 games -- but that's where it would end. Liberty (1-0) pushed all of the right buttons en route to a commanding halftime lead that it would not relinquish.
Early on, it appeared as though the previously vaunted Saguaro defense would be up to the task, as the pass-happy Patriots were quickly turned away on their first two possessions. On the team's third possession of the game, however, head coach Rich Curaco momentarily abandoned the spread for a two-back I-formation set.
Suddenly, Liberty began gashing the Sabercats on the ground, forcing the visitors to crowd the box -- but not before Kishon Pitts raced 34 yards for the game's opening score.
The early lead was just checkers. Curaco and company were playing chess.
Forced to crowd the box, Saguaro was suddenly vulnerable against the pass -- not an enviable disposition with the Patriots' Kenyon Oblad under center. Having established the run, Oblad was able to connect on three play-action passes on Liberty's next offensive possession -- the third of which was a 16-yard touchdown strike to Kyle Beaudry.
The Oblad to Beaudry pitch-and-catch was bookended by a pair of interceptions from Saguaro quarterback Max Massingale, which were returned for touchdowns by Austin Fiaseu and Davion Ware.
Fiaseu and Ware were just two of a countless number of Liberty defenders to rise to the challenge of defending Massingale and a Sabercats offense that made it look easy just one week prior. When Ware jumped a screen pass for the second pick-six, it capped a three-touchdown barrage that took just 3:30 and effectively forced Saguaro into a one-dimensional pass-heavy approach.
Massingale provided some temporary hope for the visitors, capping an 80-play drive with a 12-yard touchdown pass to Logan Pettijohn, but any momentum shift was short-lived. Oblad fired right back, finding an inexplicably uncovered Marquez Powell for a 58-yard touchdown just 30 seconds before the break.
Leading 35-6 to open the third quarter of play, it was time for Crishaun Lappin to shine. The Liberty defensive front was able to pin its ears back and get after Massingale, causing constant havoc in the Saguaro pocket, and the rout was very much on.
The 31-point loss is the largest margin of defeat for Saguaro since a 65-0 loss to Scottsdale (AZ) Chaparral on Oct. 28, 2011.
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