After a rough first half with three turnovers, Argyle rallied and defeated Liberty-Eylau 32-29 on Friday night at AT&T Stadium in the Division 1 Class 4A Quarterfinals and is heading to the state semifinals for the third season in a row.
The Liberty-Eylau Leopards lost the opening coin toss and kicked off to the Eagles to begin the game.
Argyle started the game with a run first mentality handing the ball off twice to Taylor Sweatt (7). However, this ground and pound mindset would prove ineffective as the Eagles quickly went three and out on their first drive.
The Leopards relied heavily on the passing game to get the ball downfield. This proved effective as they threw for two straight first downs. The Eagles quickly adjusted their scheme however and were able to cause a few incomplete passes and force Liberty Eylau to punt.
Liberty-Eylau’s special teams were not able to make a secure tackle letting Gage McCook take it all the way to the Liberty Eylau 13-yard line. The Eagles were able to capitalize on their great field position with a Quarterback draw that would result in a Dane Ledford touchdown, scoring the game’s first points putting Argyle up 7-0.
Liberty Eylau took over possession the ball and attempted to get their passing game going, but thanks to some good play by Argyle’s secondary most of the Leopard’s passes were incomplete.
The Eagles started of their second drive hot with Gage McCook receiving an 8-yard pass and running back Taylor Sweatt running 12-yards to pick up an Argyle first down. Good defensive play by the Leopards forced the Eagles to punt which was ruled down at the one-yard line, thus concluding the first quarter.
Liberty Eylau took control of the ball to begin the second quarter. The Leopard’s Quarterback Ke’mon Freeman made his presence known as he scrambled out of the pocket for a 36-yard gain and eventually on the same drive would take it to the house himself. The extra point was missed by kicker Tavian Gullatt, making the game 7-6 in favor of the Eagles.
Argyle would be limited to a field goal by Caleb Holt on their next drive making the score 10-6.
As the game neared halftime both teams found it hard to maintain possession of the ball.
Argyle started off the spree of turnovers with an intercepted pass and then Liberty recovering a fumble by Taylor Sweatt. Put way back in their own territory the Leopards quarterback would be sacked by Hudson Speed in the endzone resulting in a safety that put Argyle up 12-6.
Argyle however, would cough up another costly fumble but luckily their defense would prevent Liberty from scoring before halftime.
Starting the second half the Eagles kicked the ball off to the Leopards and Ke’mon Freeman would take it to the endzone on a quarterback draw and then throw a successful 2-point conversion putting liberty up 14-12. Freeman would again show off his speed taking it to the house the next drive on a 55-yard run increasing Liberty Eylau’s lead to 21-12.
Argyles offense soon became stagnate not being able to do anything with the ball being forced to punt it again. However, on defense Matthew Horton recovered a fumble that would turn the momentum of the game in favor of the Eagles. Immediately Taylor Sweatt would score a touchdown reducing Liberty’s lead to 3.
The Leopards took a knee in the end zone sending them out to the 20. From there they completed one pass to Garyco Witcher for 6 yards. On the next play Davis Bearden recovered a fumble giving Argyle the ability to tie the game 21-21 with a field goal by Caleb Holt.
The Eagles defense played strong forcing a quick 3 and out for the Leopards. With the next possession of the football Ledford found Drew Estrada for a wide open touchdown giving Argyle the lead 29-21.
Liberty’s offense would once again be stopped by the relentless Eagles defense and with the next possession Caleb Holt would kick another field goal increasing the lead to 32-21.
With their season on the line the Leopards tried to make a comeback attempt at the end of the game but it would be too little too late with Argyle winning 32-29.
After the game coach Todd Rodgers when asked about his team’s performance said that one off Argyle’s biggest keys to success was their ability to “score at the right time and hit them with big plays and big runs at the right time and that helped us win the game.”
“We’ve got to get fueled up and ready for next week but this football team’s got a lot of resilience,” said Rodgers.
“The first half was a little rocky but we bounced back and showed a great effort,” said tight end J.C. Chalk. “The second half our defense played great. The offense had a couple unfortunate turnovers but in the second half we got together and played great and took care of the ball really well.”
The Eagles will face Abilene Wylie next at McLane Stadium in Waco in the 4A Division 1 state semifinals this Friday, Dec 11, at 7:30 p.m.