LAMPASAS — What a difference a year makes.
Last year’s game between the Liberty Hill Panthers and Lampasas Badgers was for the District 25-3A championship game — now, both teams entered Friday night’s 8-3A tilt fighting for their playoff lives.
The Panthers used two late scores to defeat the Badgers 28-7 and keep hope alive, while simultaneously sinking the Badgers.
Liberty Hill’s (6-3, 2-2) head coach Jerry Vance was “tickled to death” while he spoke about the victory.
“We still have a chance — still have a life-boat on the Titanic,” he said.
The Panthers racked up 421 yards on the ground and four touchdowns while they managed to hold Lampasas (2-7, 0-4) to 147 total yards — all but 16 on the ground.
“We played pretty simple (defense) pretty basic, it helps to be the guy that gave them the offense,” Vance said. “Both teams know the offense but we went into it with a different attitude than we have.”
Junior running back Cory Ferrell and sophomore quarterback /defensive back Brandon Wells had huge efforts for Liberty Hill. Ferrell rushed 24 times for 152 yards and his second quarter-touchdown run got the scoring started for the Panthers.
“The little guy runs real well and we’re tickled to death with his effort,” Ferrell said. “We’re glad we have him back next year.”
Lampasas head coach Jimmy Randolph understands that passing isn’t his squad’s strong suit but felt like the Badgers had to get something going on offense — that didn’t work either as senior quarterback Kleg Kennedy tossed three interceptions.
Wells picked off two of Kennedy’s passes.
“He was an all-district player in defense as a freshman last year and we expect playmakers to make plays,” Vance said.
The game started well enough for Lampasas. Ferrell fumbled mid-way through the first quarter and senior defensive end John Cole Vann scooped up the ball and returned it to the Panthers 21-yard line.
“That was a big play. I don’t really know what happened — I looked over and John Cole was running with it,” Randolph said.
The Badgers’ ensuing drive lasted just three plays. Steven Jazdyk took the ball to the 1-yard line and Kennedy did the rest, scoring on a keeper. That was the last time the Badgers held a lead — or scored.
The Panthers orchestrated an 11-play, 79-yard drive that culminated in a Ferrell scored and the game was tied at 7-7.
“I thought we played extremely hard, and defensively we played really well — we just had to play a lot and broke down a play or two,” Randolph said. “We just couldn’t get any mustard going on offense, and they had a lot to do with it.”