Devils stumble in home region loss

By Jimmy Kirby
Courier Sports

LIBERTY — Freshman quarterback Peyton Kemmerlin threw for 178[cointent_lockedcontent]

Brandy Karr/Photo Liberty’s Shaun Karr finds running room against Landrum on Friday night.

Brandy Karr/Photo
Liberty’s Shaun Karr finds running room against Landrum on Friday night.

yards and two touchdowns to lead his Landrum Cardinal squad to a 19-14 victory over the Liberty Red Devils in the second region game of the season for both teams on Friday night.

Liberty coughed the ball up three times on fumbles on a cool and windy night with drizzle at times to stop key drives in the game.

Red Devils coach Kyle Stewart said following the game the turnovers were a huge part of the troubles his team faced in the region matchup.

“We can’t continue to turn the ball over by fumbles or interceptions and expect to win,” Stewart said.

The Red Devils had a good drive going on their first possession, as they marched from their own 33-yard line to the Cardinal 30-yard line before turning the ball over on downs. Liberty was steady on the ground game on its first drive before the Landrum defense shut the door on consecutive plays. Easton Jenkins and Stanley Belue-Taylor both came up with tackles for loss for the Landrum defense to stall the Red Devil drive.

The Cardinals got on the board first when speedy Anthony Anderson busted loose for a 42-yard touchdown run around right end for a 7-0 Cardinal lead with 3:47 remaining in the first quarter.

The Red Devils got near midfield on their next drive, but Eddy Mathis coughed up the ball at his own 45-yard line, and Dalton Kuykendall recovered the loose ball for the Cardinals. This time, the Red Devil defense turned up the heat and stopped the Cardinals on downs at the Liberty 24-yard line.

The Red Devils then marched 76 yards in nine plays to knot the score at 7-7 with 8:38 remaining until halftime. Mathis had gains of 12, 5 and 15 yards, while Tyler Renaud had a big gain of 26 yards on the drive. Austin Hughey found Brayden Shirley in the back of the end zone for a three-yard scoring toss and Liberty’s first touchdown pass of the season.

Landrum then scored on consecutive drives to go up 19-7 at halftime. Kemmerlin connected with Anderson for a 29-yard scoring strike and then found Jackson Kelly for 39 yard on his next touchdown pass.

The Red Devils turned ball over once more between the Cardinal touchdown drives. This time, Renaud put the ball on the ground, and Landrum’s Johnny Sherman recovered the ball at the Cardinal 46-yard line.

The Red Devils came out determined to right the ship in the second half. They were crisp running the ball, as Kris Murphy had four consecutive carries and gained 13, 7, 10 and 5 yards. Renaud then gained another 10 yards to the Cardinal 18-yard line. Six plays later, Renaud scored from six yards out to cut the Landrum lead to 19-14 and provide the final scoring play of the game.

The Liberty defense stiffened in the second half, limiting the Cardinal offense to just 15 yards of offense. Deandre Mansell sacked Kemmerlin good for a 15-yard loss on a fourth-down play to put the Red Devils back in business.

The Red Devil offense couldn’t take advantage of the good play by their defense, as they turned the ball over on downs and lost another fumble. This time, Nick Reeves’ fumble at the Landrum 45-yard line was recovered by Johnny Martin.

A personal foul call against the Red Devils ended one drive in the fourth quarter.

Cole Murphy intercepted Kemmerlin at the Liberty 15-yard line with 3:39 remaining in the game. The Red Devils then had one last gasp to try to go 85 yards for the go-ahead score, but it wasn’t meant to be. They got as far as midfield before they turned the ball over on downs with 15 seconds remaining on the clock.

Renaud led all rushers in the game with 113 yards on 17 carries. Kris Murphy added 95 yards on 18 carries. Anderson added 81 yards on nine carries on the ground to lead Landrum.

The Red Devils’ duo of Hughey and Reeves were a combined 4-for-10 passing in the game for 29 yards. Both finished 2-for-5 through the air, while Hughey tossed the touchdown to Shirley.

Total offense was almost even, as the Red Devils held a slight advantage, gaining 310 yards of total offense to the Cardinals’ 299.

Kevin Tabron and Aaron Bates led the Red Devil defense with six tackles each in the game. The Red Devils also had one sack, one interception and four tackles for loss in the strong second-half effort.

With the loss, Liberty is now 1-4 overall and 0-2 in region play. The Devils will travel to take on Chesnee in the longest road trip of the season on Friday. The Eagles are rebuilding after a strong season in 2014 but are always tough to play at home.

The Red Devils will need to keep the focus on moving the ball and getting some yards through the air if they are to be successful. Playing catch up and only being able to run the ball is not the best recipe for success.