Saturday, Aug. 27, 2011 | 1:42 a.m.
Despite an hour delay to kickoff time after transportation didn’t come to pick up the team for its away game, Arbor View routed Liberty to open the season Friday night.
The Aggies rushing attack perplexed the Patriots on the way to a 47-26 victory.
“I had to get out my bus order form to make sure I didn’t mess anything up,” Arbor View coach Dan Barnson joked of the pregame mix-up. “But we were calm. We knew it was going to be OK. There was no reason to panic.”
The second of Arbor View’s two buses arrived to pick up the team an hour-and-a-half after its scheduled departure. The Aggies thought nothing of it and proved as much on the field.
On the second play of the game, senior fullback Christian Rodriguez rushed for an 81-yard touchdown. He scored again just more than two minutes later from 30 yards out.
He went untouched on both plays, which were simple fullback traps.
“They were wide open,” Rodriguez said. “I didn’t think they would be open at all. They didn’t read the right stuff. I got in there and got loose.”
As impressive as the Aggies were on offense, they were aided by an opportunistic defense. Arbor View forced two first-half turnovers — a Joey Comish interception and Jordan Eggleston fumble recovery — in Liberty’s territory and returned them to inside the five-yard line.
“It was an offensive coordinator’s dream,” Barnson said.
Two minutes before halftime, Arbor View held a commanding 33-7 lead. The Aggies were often dominating the line of scrimmage where Liberty usually possesses its most significant advantage.
The offensive line, led by junior tackle Elijah George, opened holes and held their blocks all night.
“They’re big, but we’re big, too,” Barnson said. “We’re strong and our kids have a lot of pride. We knew they would battle us. We said before the game it was Tyson vs. Holyfield — two heavyweights in the first game of the year.”
The Patriots went on a 21-7 run — mostly due to 100 rushing yards from Niko Kapeli and 94 receiving yards from Jeremy Lagasca — to make the score a manageable 40-26 at the start of the fourth quarter.
One more stop could have made the game interesting, but Gaskin weaved his way to a 34-yard touchdown on a third-down play to put Liberty away.
“He’s a little box of dynamite,” Barnson said. “You never know with him.”
Barnson allowed his players to celebrate the momentous victory against one of Las Vegas’ best teams for all of five minutes before they headed home. It was difficult for the Aggies to think about it for long anyway with visions of next week’s game against Palo Verde dancing in their heads.
The showdown pits the top two teams from the Northwest Division, with the winner in prime position for a run at an undefeated season. It’s at Palo Verde, but Arbor View won’t stress about its buses showing up promptly.
Inconvenience can’t stop the Aggies.
“It gave us more time to think about what we needed to do,” Rodriguez said. “If anything, it hurt Liberty because they got to work sooner than us.”