Mustangs corral Liberty, 33-24

Published 11:57 pm Friday, November 2, 2018

WEST ORANGE — Claiming their 45th district win in a row, the West Orange-Stark Mustangs got past a gritty Liberty Panthers unit 33-24 in District 10-4A Division II action at Hooks Stadium Friday night.

The Mustangs (5-4, 3-0) cashed in on three Liberty turnovers with senior Teshaun Teel accounting for two of them in the first half as WO-S was able to hang on against the Panthers (5-3, 1-2).

The Mustangs were without the services of injured senior running backs Kavyn Cooper and Justin Sibley due to ankle injuries.

WO-S finished with 295 total yards as they spread the wealth around.

Quarterback Tyrone Wilson completed 12-of-19 passes for 125 yards and rushed for 51 yards on nine carries. Ja’marcus Ross had 62 yards on 12 totes while freshman Elijah Gales had 55 yards on 10 carries.

The Mustang win offset and amazing performance by Liberty senior J.J. Slack, who did a little bit of it all.

Slack rushed for 127 yards on 19 carries, completed 5-of-11 passes for 197 yards and caught three passes for 56 yards. Keegan Turner completed 5-of-9 passes for 100 yards and rushed for 54 yards on 12 carries as the Panthers finished with 378 total yards.

The Panthers put together a nice drive late in the first quarter but settled for a field goal. After J.J. Slack hauled in a 23-yard pass from Keegan Turner that got to the Mustang 9 the WO-S defense bowed up, forcing three straight incompletions. Panther kicker Eric Espinosa booted a 26-yard field goal to put Liberty up 3-0 with 3:15 left in the first quarter.

The Mustangs drove from their own 48 all the way down to the Panther 3 on the next series with the big play coming on a 19-yard pass from Wilson to Deiondre Hawthorne that got to the 3. However, after Wilson had a two-yard sneak to the 1, the Mustangs were whistled for a personal foul, moving the ball back to the 16. The Mustangs would settle for a 33-yard Angel Ibarra field goal to tie things up with 0:23 in the first quarter.

The Mustangs cashed in on a Panther turnover on the first play of the second quarter when Liberty back Johnny Hines coughed p the ball to WO-S defensive back Renaldo Rose at the Panther 19.

The Mustangs hit paydirt two plays later when Ja’marcus Ross scooted around the left side for a 12-yard touchdown gallop to make it 10-3 with 11:06 in the half.

Liberty looked like they were going to tie the game up with a 79-yard drive all the way to the Mustang 1 as Slack caught two passes for 33 yards from Turner and ran twice for 40 yards, including a 37-yard jaunt. However, the momentum changed quickly in the Mustangs’ favor as Teel picked up a bad snap and scooted 99 yards for a touchdown to sink the Panthers’ sails as the Mustangs snared a 17-3 lead with 7:23 in the half.

Liberty scrapped right back with a six-play, 57-yard scoring march. Turner connected with tight end Devin Fregia on a 23-yard pass that got to the Mustang 27. Turner then bolted around the right end for a 25-yard gallop and he capped it two plays later with a one-yard plunge to cut it to 17-10 with 2:09 in the half.

The Mustangs countered with a superb seven-play, 77-yard touchdown drive. Wilson completed three passes for 51 yards on the march and Gales had two carries for 20 yards. Rose caught two passes for 39 yards, including a big 28-yarder that went down the right side to the Panther 8. Wilson capped it with a eight-yard scamper around the left end, pushing the lead to 24-10 with 0:31 in the half.

The Panthers outgained the Mustangs 226-158 in the half. Turner passed for 100 yards and ran for 54 while Slack had 54 on the ground and 56 receiving.

Wilson passed for 75 yards in the half while Ross had 36 yards rushing.

Utilizing a short field on their first series of the second half, the Mustangs found the end zone again on a six-play, 28-yard drive as Gales capped it with a two-yard touchdown run up the middle to make it 31-10 with 8:16 in the third.

Liberty put together a eight-play, 69-yard touchdown march late in the third. Slack completed two big passes for 57 yards to Devin Fregia and Tyler Fregia and he capped it with a 20-yard touchdown dart off the right side to trim it to 31-17 with 3:29 in the third.

The Panthers countered with a seven-play, 76-yard touchdown drive behind the effort of Slack again. He completed two passes for 22 yards and carried five times for 54, including a 27-yard touchdown scamper around the right side to cut it to 31-24 with 8:32 remaining.

The Mustangs ate up over six minutes of the clock but had to punt with 2:10 left. Liberty took over at their own 2 and the Mustangs sealed the deal when they sacked Slack in the end zone for a safety with 1:29 left.

The Mustangs will look to wrap up the district title with a perfect mark when they visit Hamshire-Fannett next week while Liberty hosts Hardin-Jefferson.