Liberty drops wild one, 31-28, to Atholton

September 18, 1994|By Chuck Acquisto | Chuck Acquisto,Special to The Sun

Despite having already rushed for 196 yards and two touchdowns, Atholton senior running back Ricky Trott saved his best carry yesterday for last against Liberty.

Trott's 6-yard run on third-and-five at the Raiders' 40 allowed host Atholton (2-0) to extinguish the game's final 40 seconds to preserve a wild 32-28 win over the Lions (1-1).

"All I was worrying about at the end was holding onto the football," said Trott, who also registered nine tackles on defense as a back.

As Atholton's passing game sputtered (2 of 12, 68 yards), Trott led a ground attack that churned up 351 yards and much of the clock. Junior fullback Jon Sanford stole some of Trott's thunder with 87 yards rushing on 11 carries, including two 5-yard touchdown runs.

Atholton needed a big game from its backfield to offset Liberty sophomore quarterback Ryan Pagels' four touchdown passes for yards, with two scoring strikes coming late in the fourth quarter.

Atholton had opened up a 32-14 lead midway through the fourth quarter after a 28-yard field goal by Tim Steadman was followed by Sanford and Trott touchdown runs. But Pagels connected twice with junior split end Tyrone Ellis for touchdowns in the final five minutes.

"We have a more balanced offensive attack this year," said Atholton coach Don Van Deusen, whose team passed for more than 200 yards in last week's 27-5 win over Northeast. "We have two or three outstanding backs, including sophomore LeVar Macon."

Liberty shut down Atholton's air attack in the first half, intercepting senior quarterback Jamie Burford three times. Ellis intercepted two Burford passes to go along with his three touchdown receptions for 125 yards.

Liberty's final score came with 1:59 left in the game, as Pagels delivered a perfect pass to a wide-open Ellis.

Trott credited his Raider blockers, singling out Sanford and 6-foot, 262-pound Adam Martiny, for his school-record 202 rushing yards.

"Two or three times we had him stopped at the line of scrimmage only to see him get five yards and a few inches," Liberty coach Ken Johnson said.

Ellis' 46-yard scoring catch gave Liberty a 7-6 lead at the end of the first quarter. A 2-yard touchdown dive by Trott put the Raiders ahead 14-6 with 8:55 left in the first half.

An Ellis interception at the Liberty goal line gave the Lions a last-ditch chance to score before halftime. After a 36-yard sideline jaunt by junior halfback Brandon Scarborough (17 carries, 128 yards) to the Atholton 44, Pagels connected with senior wingback Eric Cook for a touchdown with no time left. Pagels completed the two-point conversion pass to Scarborough knot the game at 14.

"Coach was a mad at us at halftime because of that late touchdown," Trott said. "But we're supposed to put that behind us and come out and play a second half as if the score is 0-0."

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