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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Pierce City dominates Liberal, win 42-0

Monday, September 10, 2012

Wrapped up. Pierce City's Hunter Jones tackles Liberal running back Austin Spivey during Friday night's game. Pierce City defenders had nine tackles for a loss. [Photo by Paul Donely]
The biggest question on the mind of Pierce City football coach Matt Holt, before the start of Friday night's 42-0 victory over Liberal, was how focused was his team?

On the bus ride to Liberal, the Eagles were caught in the teeth of the fast moving storm that crossed the Ozarks. The storm forced several games to start late or be postponed until Saturday.

"We had parents calling with concerns about their kids," said Holt. "All we went through was some heavy rain. After things calmed down, I wondered how soon we could refocus on playing football."

The game started on time and Holt wouldn't have to wait long for the answer about his team's readiness.

The Eagles began their first drive of the game on their 30-yard line. On the first snap from center, running back Cedric O'Hara raced 70 yards to give Pierce City a 6-0 lead, less than 20 seconds into the game.

Liberal started its first drive on the Pierce City 45-yard line. Three plays later, the Bulldogs were faced with fourth and inches. Electing to go for the first down, Liberal found a wall of Eagle defenders waiting to stop the Bulldogs before the first-down marker.

Taking over on downs, at the 35-yard line, Pierce City only needed one play to swell its advantage. Caleb Laswell caught a pass from quarterback Kole Kelley and rumbled for the score. O'Hara picked up the two-point conversion and the Eagles led 14-0.

"Getting those two quick scores was high for our team," said Holt. "They helped to energize our defense and really set the tone for the remainder of the game."

Pierce City continued to assault the Bulldogs defense on their next drive until an interception ended its next drive in the red zone.

Liberal then put together its best drive of the game. The Bulldogs picked up three first downs and moved the ball to the 45-yard line where they were forced to punt.

Pierce City took over on its own 20 with 5:49 left in the first half and needed only three plays to score.

After two short gains on first and second downs, Kelley hit a streaking Zack Hyde for a 75-yard touchdown catch to give the Eagles a 21-0 halftime advantage.

Second half

Each team sputtered on their first two drives of the third quarter and exchanged punts.

On the Eagles second drive of the half, they found their stride. Beginning at the 33-yard line, Pierce City turned to the senior leadership of O'Hara rushing six straight times for gains of 1, 4, 8, 40, 1 and 1 yards, On his seventh carry, O'Hara plowed in from a yard out to give the Eagles a 27-0 lead.

Pierce City's offense scored on it next two possessions. O'Hara picked up a 5-yard touchdown run and Caleb Laswell busted a 56-yard run for a touchdown to provide the 42-0 final score.

"I was concerned that we gave up too many yards on defense," said Holt. "It seemed that the Bulldogs were running three to four yards before we could get a defender to the ball. When we watched the film of the game it wasn't that bad. Liberal's running backs started so far in the backfield it took them six yards to get back to the line of scrimmage."

The Bulldogs only managed 116 yard of total offense, 50-yards rushing and 66-yards passing.

The Eagles' defense had nine tackles for a loss and three sacks.

"The defense played a great game," said Holt. "We were physical and attacked. We had great effort."

O'Hara finished with 16 rushes for 217 yards and three touchdowns. Laswell rushed for 77 yards and had two receptions for 76 yards and two scores.

Hyde finished with 109 receiving yards and Kelley passed for 192 yards and two scores.

The Eagles trave to 3-0 Sarcoxie Friday night. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

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