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June 24, 2019

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Liberty stuns Silverado to break six-year streak

Liberty beats Silverado

Richard Brian

Liberty running back Shawn Murray (11) dives as he is rushed during Friday’s away game against Silverado.

Liberty defeats Silverado

Silverado football players look on from the sidelines during Friday's home game against Liberty. Launch slideshow »

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When the clock stopped and the buzzer sounded, a stunned hush fell over the Silverado crowd as Liberty’s football team sprayed each other with water bottles as part of a celebration six years in the making.

After a physical defensive showdown on Friday night, the Patriots’ 6-0 victory ended not only the Skyhawks’ 12-game regular season win streak but also their six years of dominance against Liberty.

“This is the biggest win of my 12 years of coaching,” Liberty coach Lou Markouzis said. “It’s the biggest win this program has had in its six years. These kids busted their tails. They said, ‘Enough is enough. We’re not going to be the doormat for the (Southeast) Division anymore. We’re thrilled we came out on top tonight.”

The Patriots (3-1) dominated the line of scrimmage on both ends, man-handling the Silverado defensive line and helping their backfield to 202 rushing yards.

Seniors Carlos Tautoto and Sage Nua had the bulk of the carries with Tautoto taking the ball 84 yards on 24 carries and Nua going 45 yards on 11 carries, including the game’s lone touchdown — a 5-yard run in the first quarter.

“We really wanted this game and I’m glad I could finally get it in my fourth year at the school,” Nua said. “Our offensive line came up big all night. (The touchdown) came on a wedge play so we needed them to give me a big push up the gut and they gave it. We wouldn’t have won without them.”

Markouzis said he knew the offensive line would be a strength for the Patriots despite carrying only one senior, Cedric Cisneros. The rest of the line is composed of juniors Remius Taeao, Zakkary White and Michael Rosal as well as freshman PJ Taeao.

Defensively, the Patriots clogged the lanes and forced Silverado into several third-and-long situations. The Hawks failed to find an answer to the Liberty attack and finished with only 18 rushing yards and a team high of 17 yards from junior Terran Madu-Jules.

“They schemed us well and dominated us up front,” Silverado coach Andy Ostolaza said. “We came in thinking we were invincible and our offensive line got murdered. They loaded up on us and we fumbled the ball repeatedly. They smacked us in the mouth and we never smacked them back.”

The Skyhawks (3-1) lost four of six fumbles. Liberty senior linebacker Ian Jackson recovered two of those fumbles and picked up two sacks in what he called the best game of his high school career.

“Football is my life and this game was the high point of that life,” Jackson said. “This is beyond the highlight of my high school career. We were hungry for this for four years. We wanted this and we knew this was our year for it. We have to get back into practice now and kill it every play. We can’t have any lapses. We’ve got to build on this.”

Silverado senior defensive end Keenan Graham said the Skyhawks were stunned early on at level of play the Patriots brought, but added that ultimately, the loss might be the best thing for the ‘Hawks.

“We just have to remember it's only one loss and there’s still a lot of football to be played,” Graham said. “We’re almost better off because we know what it feels like to lose and we can build off this. We went undefeated last year and then got shocked in the playoffs. We can learn from this.”

Jared Harmon can be reached at 990-8922 or [email protected].

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