EL DORADO — Liberty Ranch broke from a 14-14 tie and eight-point halftime lead to hold off host Union Mine 35-26 in Friday’s Sierra Valley Conference football game on the Diamondbacks’ field.
The two teams combined for 34 second-quarter points. The D’backs rattled the Hawks in the third quarter by holding them to 42 combined yards but Union Mine was unable to overtake its visitors.
Liberty Ranch led 14-7 early in the second quarter when D’backs outside linebacker Matt Cathey stuffed a Hawk running back, who fumbled. Cathey scooped up the ball and ran it back 25 yards for a touchdown to tie the game at 14-all with 8:31 left.
“He came up with some big plays,” said Union Mine head coach Dave Johnson of Cathey, who started at running back in the game. “That changed the momentum.”
Liberty Ranch took a 21-14 lead when quarterback William Ranse Gale hit Trevor Windley for a 58-yard score in the quarter. The Hawks scored again on their next possession when Windley scored on a 73-yard run to make it 28-14 with 3:45 left.
The D’backs didn’t roll over. Union Mine quarterback Brody Pearman hit Nate Brown who leapt over a defensive back and raced toward the end zone to cap a 54-yard score with 1:33 left. The extra-point kick missed the uprights, but the Hawks’ lead was trimmed to 28-20.
“Brody made some good passes on third and long situations,” said Johnson of Pearman.
After a scoreless third quarter, the Hawks and D’backs scored within 19 seconds toward the end of the fourth quarter.
Windley scored on a 2-yard end around to make it 35-20 with 2:51 left. On the ensuing kick-off, the Hawks were slapped with a facemask penalty that moved the D’backs to their own 41 yard line. On the first play, Pearman threw his third scoring pass, this time 59 yards to Zac Kraus to make it 35-26 with 2:32 left in the game. Union Mine opted for the 2-point conversion but failed.
Union Mine (0-3, 0-7) then went for the onside kick to get the ball back. But Liberty Ranch (3-0, 5-2) recovered to secure the win.
“The kids played hard,” Johnson said. “I think they gave it their best effort. We were right there with those guys. They (Union Mine) are getting better.”
Union Mine scored on its second possession in the first quarter. Pearman rolled out of the pocket to find Parker at the Hawks’ 10 yard line. Parker hauled in the pass and zipped past a Liberty Ranch defensive back for an 18-yard touchdown for a 7-0 lead.
Gale found Koby McDonald on a 64-yard strike to tie the game at 7-all. Windley scored his first touchdown of the game on a 2-yard run on the first play of the second quarter to put the Hawks up a touchdown.
Pearman completed 8-of-16 passes for 180 yards and three touchdowns. Tyler Parker and Kraus combined for an even 100 yards receiving while Union Mine running back Jake Horn had 13 carries for 69 yards.
Contact Mike Bush at 530-344-5079 or [email protected] Follow @MBushMtDemo on Twitter.