Friday, Sept. 29, 2017 | 1 a.m.
Liberty quarterback Kenyon Oblad battled against more than the Green Valley defense early in his team’s league opener Thursday night.
Oblad was also trying to overcome his nerves, which were uncharacteristically high for the four-year starter because of the history on the line. Oblad needed 84 yards to break the state record for career passing yards, and thinking about the milestone appeared to take its toll on him during the Patriots’ first two possessions.
The typically efficient quarterback completed only one of his first four passes.
“After a drive or two went on, (the stress) was gone,” Oblad said. “It was just like another football game.”
Oblad got into a deadly rhythm from there, completing his next 10 attempts in a row to not only blow past Anu Solomon’s previous record of 10,113 career passing yards but also help obliterate Green Valley 49-14. He wound up completing 18 of 29 passes against the Gators for 284 yards, putting his career mark at 10,313.
Oblad totaled four touchdowns that illustrated the wide extent of the abilities he’s honed as the Patriots’ longtime signal caller. He hit Cervontes White with a deep ball, swung Kyle Beaudry a pass in the flat, darted a short one to Zyrus Fiaseu and found David Elder on the run while getting chased out of the pocket.
Oblad and his teammates celebrated the achievement after they thought he broke with the touchdown pass to White, but the actual record-breaking pass came on a 4-yard completion to the same receiver earlier on the drive.
“It says a lot about Kenyon, what a talented young man he is to be sitting alone now at the top of the Nevada state record book,” Liberty coach Rich Muraco said.
Oblad deflected much of the praise on his teammates, several of whom deserved as much against the Gators. Senior receiver Marquez Powell was Oblad’s top target, catching five passes for 90 yards, and might have made one of the best receptions of the year that seemed to break Oblad out of his early funk.
On Oblad’s fifth passing attempt of the night, he threw what looked to be a sure interception but the ball hit off the defender’s hands and Powell leapt over his shoulders to make a nearly impossible grab.
Fellow classmate Crishaun Lappin was the other star. Lappin had a couple of sacks from his usual spot on the defensive line, but was also employed as running back because of an injury to starter Kishon Pitts.
Lappin scored Liberty’s first two touchdowns, both on 4th-and-1 plays, and finished with 49 yards on three carries.
“He’s a load,” Muraco said. “He’s hard to tackle.”
Lappin and senior defensive tackle Jaden Brown harassed Green Valley senior quarterback A.J. Barilla into rushed decisions throughout the game. Barilla did throw two first-quarter touchdowns — a 53-yarder to Kalyja Waialae and a 55-yarder to Adrian Gutierrez — to keep the Gators in the game but their offense was otherwise anemic.
Liberty senior cornerback Alan Mwata had interceptions on back-to-back drives in the second quarter. Then, seconds before halftime with Green Valley inside the 10-yard line, junior linebacker Austin Fiaseu read a Barilla pass, picked it off and returned it 97 yards for a touchdown.
That made the score 42-14 and demoralized the Gators.
“They do a lot of little intricacies with their routes to kind of confuse you and they got us on a couple of them,” Muraco said. “Hats off to them, but for the most part, I thought the defense played really well, came up with some big turnovers. The pick right before the half was huge for us.”
That took the pressure off Oblad in the second half. Not that he needed any relief.
Once he settled down and moved past the record, Oblad was as lethal as ever.
“Coming into the season it’s kind of a worry to beat the record because everyone is talking about it, hyping it up and stuff, so it’s good to beat it and be over with it,” Oblad said. “And now just keep playing football.”