By Neal Thornton, contributing writer
The Liberty Panthers wrapped up the 2020 football season by bowing to the Hamshire-Fannett Longhorns by a score of 21-14. It was a hard-fought contest to cap a hard-luck season for the Panthers who came up short on Senior night at Liberty’s Memorial Stadium. The loss gave the Panthers a 4 and 5 record for the season and a 1 and 4 record in District 11-4A play.
Both teams’ defensive squads held their opponents throughout the first quarter. Liberty caused a Longhorn fumble that stopped a first-quarter drive. Liberty also stymied Hamshire-Fannett on 4th down three times in the first half. But the ‘Horns’ defense did their job as well, forcing the Panthers to punt 3 times in the first half.
Liberty managed 265 yards of offense on 58 plays, 42 of them on the ground for 172 yards. QB Austin Walker was 8 for 17 passing for 93 yards and 2 touchdowns. Their leading runner was Terrick Peterson who had 18 carries for 117 yards. The leading receiver was Kieron Joiner with 2 catches for 38 yards. Liberty was penalized 5 times for 35 yards and turned the ball over on an interception.
Hamshire-Fannett totaled 336 yards of offense on 48 plays. They ran the ball 39 times for 229 yards, Quarterback K. Heckaman was the leading ground gainer with 129 yards on 24 carries and 2 touchdowns. He was 3 for 7 passing for 41 yards. Halfback Jordan Joiner went 1 for 1 passing, a 66-yard touchdown pass to Evan Viator who was their leading receiver. The ‘Horns fumbled twice, losing one. They were penalized 3 times for 24 yards.
Hamshire-Fannett scored first on a 66-yard halfback pass from Jordan Joiner to Evan Viator. The PAT was good, bringing the score to 7-0, Longhorns with 7:32 left in the half. Neither team scored in the first half and it remained 7-0 at intermission.
Hamshire-Fannett received the 2nd half kickoff but were intercepted on the 2nd play of the half. Liberty looked promising but had a touchdown run called back and were unable to get started again, giving the ball back to HF on downs. The Longhorns took advantage and 55 yards in 5 plays. Junior QB Kheagian Heckaman plunged in from the 1. The PAT was good and the ‘Horns were up 14-0 at the 6:50 mark of the 3rd quarter.
Liberty then scored at the end of a 10-play, 60-yard drive. Senior tight end Devin Fregia caught an 8-yard strike from Austin Walker at the 9:18 mark of the third. The PAT was good from Senior Jorge Basham and the scoreboard read 14-7, Hamshire-Fannett. The Longhorns scored once more in the 4th quarter when QB Heckaman scampered in from 31 yards out. Their PAT was good and the score was 21-7. Liberty scored on their next possession putting together a 10-play, 78-yard drive that was capped off with a 10-yard pass from Austin Walker to Vincent Harris. The PAT was good again and the score stood at 21-14, HF with 2:44 left in the game. Liberty then tried an on-side kick but it was recovered by the Longhorns. Liberty’s defense reared up and held the Longhorns, getting the ball back on downs. But Liberty was intercepted and Hamshire-Fannett ran out the clock.
And that wraps up the 2020 season. See you Panther fans next season!