Alexander leads Devils’ rout of TR

By Jimmy Kirby
Courier Sports

LIBERTY — Senior quarterback Brandon Alexander rushed for five touchdowns and threw for another to lead the Liberty Red Devils to a 48-30 season-opening rout of AAA Travelers Rest.

The 48 points were the most scored by a Liberty team to open the season sine 2004, when the Red Devils defeated Dixie 45-0.

Alexander scored on runs of 59, 56, 43, six and one yards on the night. Fellow senior Dalton James scored on a 15-yard run in the third quarter, and junior Dolan Holder caught the first touchdown pass of the season on a 15-yard toss from Alexander.

The Red Devils started in a hole on their first possession of the game when freshman Eddy Mathis retreated and tried to outrun the coverage on the opening kickoff. He was tackled for a 13-yard loss on the play, and the Red Devils started their first possession of the season at their own 5-yard line.

It took the Red Devils only 2:39 and six plays to get their first points of the season. Alexander kept the ball on an option keeper on the first play from scrimmage and gained 39 yards out to the 44-yard line. Erick Sanchez kept the opening drive alive on a fourth and one play, gaining four yards to the Travelers Rest 43-yard line before Alexander was off to the races on the next play for his first touchdown of the night.
After allowing the Devildogs a first down on the first play of the ensuing kickoff, the Red Devil defense stiffened and forced a punt.

The Liberty offense wasted no time scoring again. Facing a third and 11 from his own 41-yard line, Alexander was forced to scramble out of the pocket from pressure by the TR defense. He found running room along the right side and bolted 59 yards for his second touchdown in as many drives to put the Red Devils up 14-0.

Travelers Rest got on the board on their next possession, as Denzel Dennis went around right end for a 58-yard touchdown run. The two-point run by Toriano Pone was good, and the Red Devil lead was cut to 14-8 with 3:28 remaining in the first quarter.

Following a stalled drive, the Red Devils caught a break with a Devildog turnover, as AJ Starks mishandled the punt and Parker Ford recovered the loose ball at the TR 5-yard line.

A false start by the Red Devils backed them up to the 10-yard line, but Sanchez had a nice gain around right end good for nine yards on third and goal before Alexander scored his third touchdown, this time from a yard out, to put the Red Devils up 21-8, still in the first quarter.

The Red Devils extended their lead to 28-8 early in the second quarter when they marched 62 yards in six plays, with Alexander hooking up with Holder for the touchdown in the back of the end zone outside the right hash mark. The Red Devils were aided by a TR personal foul on the drive.

The Red Devils extended their lead to 35-8 before the half when Alexander scored his fourth touchdown of the night on a 56-yard option keeper to the left side that he cut back across the grain to score down the right sideline.

Alexander finished the first half with 215 yards on nine carries.
Coming into the season Liberty head coach Kyle Stewart was looking to replace three senior running backs.

Tanner Chambers, James and Sanchez showed that they can be dependable running backs, as they accounted for 32 carries in the game, gaining 140 yards between them. Chambers had 54 yards on 12 carries bruising his way up the middle, while James was good for 12 carries and 43 yards. Sanchez averaged 5.4 yards per carry on eight attempts, earning 43 total.

Mathis, playing in his first game, had three carries for 31 yards and showed some speed to the outside. Stewart is relying on Mathis to be a big help once he gets some additional game experience, as James and Sanchez will need breathers while they play both ways.

Stewart said much of the credit for the success of the Red Devil rushing game against the Devildogs went to the offensive line, which opened up holes for the big gainers. The Red Devils wound up with 425 yards rushing on 52 attempts for an average of 8.2 yards per carry.

Not to be overlooked was the play of the Red Devil defense. Other than two long touchdown runs of 58 yards by Dennis and 67 yards by Pone, the Liberty defense held its ground quite well, allowing only nine first downs and 280 yards by the TR offense. The Devils delivered a number of good hits on Travelers Rest running backs and tackled well during the course of the game.

Leading the way for the Red Devil defense was Ford with eight tackles. Fellow linebacker Andrew King accounted for six tackles, including one for loss, while James was also in on six stops and had 1.5 tackles for loss.

As a team, the Red Devils accounted for nine tackles for loss totaling 19 yards.

Alexander came up with a big interception to end the first half when he picked off a Barron Morgan pass in the end zone as time expired.

The Red Devils were penalized 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct to start the second half. They were late returning to the field after halftime to warm up in preparation to start the second half.

The Liberty defense was not affected, as they held the Devildogs to a three and out to start the third quarter.

Liberty then marched 58 yards in only four plays to go up 42-8 on James’s five-yard run.

Alexander scored his final touchdown of the night with only 17 seconds remaining in the third quarter as he went in from six yards out.
Morgan concluded the scoring for the Devildogs with a 19-yard run in the fourth quarter to make the final score 48-30.

The atmosphere was heated throughout the game, and the Devildogs will surely be ready for the Red Devils next season, as Liberty will travel to TR to open the 2013 season on the road.

The Red Devils will remain at home this week to face the Blue Flame of Pickens for their second straight AAA opponent.

The Red Devils will face a stiff challenge from the Blue Flame, as Pickens will try to avenge last season’s 28-17 loss at Pickens last year.