By EARL WATT
• Leader & Times
A year ago on a foggy night in Goddard, the Liberal Redskins gave up 45 points and lost to the Lions, 45-21.
But on a cold, clear night in Liberal Friday, the Redskins gave up 46 points and won, 64-46.
The difference was an unstoppable offense powered by Trenton Hammond who looked every bit like the Div. 1 prospect he has been billed to be this season, and by Rex Heronemus who used his bruising downhill-style running to chalk up his first 100-yard game.
Hammond caught four touchdown passes and almost had another, but a fumble at the goal line before the half trickled into the end zone and was recovered by Goddard.
Heronemus ran for three touchdowns against the Lions defense that couldn’t spread to cover the passing threats and the running weapons at the same time.
Britton Abbott had one of his biggest nights, throwing for 304 yards and rushing for 146 more.
Despite the offensive showcase by the Redskins, Goddard still had a chance with 10 minutes to play in the fourth quarter only trailing by three.
The Lions put together a nine-play, 56-yard drive that took 4:29 and ended with a touchdown that cut Liberal’s lead to 42-39.
But Goddard’s kick-off ended up in the arms of Hammond who returned the ball to the Lions 17 yard line.
Heronemus took the first play from scrimmage 17 yards up the middle and plunged into the end zone, and the Redskins stretched the lead back to 50-39.
Three plays later, a snap went over the head of Goddard’s Tucker Vang, and the Redskins recovered at the Lion 15 yard line.
Four plays later, Abbott dove into the end zone, and after a two-point conversion, Libral led 58-39.
Two plays after the following kick-off, Goddard put the ball on the turf again when a hand-off missed its target, and Nolan Larkin recovered the ball at the Lion 44 yard line.
Heronemus capped the five-play drive with a nine-yard touchdown run and a 64-39 Liberal lead.
Goddard trimmed the lead on the first play of the next drive with a 51-yard touchdown pass from Vang to Beau Fisher over the middle, and the Lions cut the lead to 64-46.
But once the Redskins recovered the ensuing onside kick, they were able to burn the final 3:54 off the clock for the district win.
The scoring frenzy began early when Liberal scored in the first tow minutes of the game.
Liberal ran seven plays and went 54 yards that was capped with an eight-yard touchdown reception by Hammond that gave the Redskins an 8-0 lead.
After a Goddard field goal, Abbott found Hammond for three receptions on the next drive that started with a three-yard gain, a 31-yard gain and ended with a 20-yard touchdown reception and a 16-3 lead.
Liberal’s defense held Goddard to one of only two punts in the game on the next possession, and the Redskins only needed five plays to gain 80 yards that ended with a 43-yard touchdown reception by Hammond that put the Redskins ahead 24-3.
Goddard began to find opportunities on the ground and ran the ball eight straight times on a drive that ended 60 yards later in the end zone with a six-yard touchdown run by Vang, and the Lions trimmed the Redskin lead to 24-10.
Liberal continued to score, this time with a 63-yard drive that ended with a highlight-reel pass from Abbott to Larkin on the back line of the end zone. Larkin caught the ball at the top of his jump and got a foot in the back of the end zone for the score and a 30-10 lead.
But the Lions answered with an eight-play, 65-yard drive that ended with a 29-yard pass from Vang to tight end Austin Chippeaux, and the Lions chipped away at the Redskins lead, 30-17.
Six plays later, Liberal was back in the end zone, capping a 52-yard drive with an 11-yard touchdown run by Heronemus.
But Goddard only needed 33 seconds to respond after recovering the onside at the 49 yard line.
The Lions used two screen passes to Connor Kirby to move the ball into the end zone to reduce Liberal’s lead to 36-24.
With 1:38 in the half, Liberal moved the ball 62 yards to the Lion goal line, but after a Hammond reception and solid run, Hammons lost control of the ball, and it trickled into the end zone and was recovered by a Lion.
Goddard scored on its first drive of the second half with a 13-play, 62-yard drive that ended with a four-yard touchdown run by Fisher. Larkin questioned an official about the play of Goddard’s Drew Burns, but the official told Larkin he didn’t want to hear form him the rest of the game. On the following extra point, Liberal’s Heath Parmenter had an altercation with Burns, and Parmenter was ejected from the game. No disciplinary action was directed toward Burns even though the official had both players shake hands before announcing Parmenter’s ejection.
Hammond put momentum back on the side of the Redskins after Goddard trimmed the lead to five with a 56-yard touchdown reception. Goddard’s Kirby had three chances to stop Hammond short of the goal, but each time Hammond stiff armed the shorter Lion on his way to the end zone and a 42-31 Liberal lead.
Despite the loss of one of its team captains, the Redskins continued to rack up big offensive numbers even after Goddard reduced the lead to three early in the fourth quarter.
The win moved Liberal into a first-place tie with Bishop Carroll in District 8 who defeated Goddard-Eisenhower, 56-21.
Liberal travels to Goddard to face the Tigers Friday while Carroll will battle the Lions.