New Waterford – The Liberty Leopards had a chance to tie the game with 13-seconds remaining, but a Collin Gilbert interception at the goal line for the Rebels turned the threat away, and preserved a 34-26 victory for the Rebels. The win keeps the Rebels undefeated on the year at 3-0.
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The Rebels held a 15-point lead in the third quarter, and a 16-point advantage in the fourth before the Leopards scored with 4:48 remaining in the contest and added a two-point conversion to cut it to a 8-point
final margin. Setting the stage for the dramatic ending.
“I guess that’s just the identity of my team,” Leopards head coach Kevin Cylar remarked. “We kind of dig ourselves in a whole every week, start slow and then we pick it up. I told the guys when you play a good team like Crestview with a great coach like Cusick, you have got to come ready to play four quarters. You can’t come out here and pick and choose when your going to be fundamental and when your going to execute. You have to be fundamental and execute the whole football game. Or you get your heart broke.
The Rebels came out of the gate first in this see-saw affair with an impressive 12-play drive resulting in a 3-yard run by Jake Ferris to give them a 7-0 lead.
The Leopards answered right back with a 40-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Asim Pleas to Cameron Clark. But a failed extra point left the Leopards trailing 7-6 early in the second quarter.
Before halftime the Rebels added a second score, taking advantage of a Leopards short punt to score on a 4-yard pass from quarterback Collin Gilbert to halfback Jesse Best. The touchdown gave the Rebels a 14-6 halftime advantage.
The two teams traded touchdown in the second half with Crestview scoring on a two scoring run by Gilbert of 22 and 66- yards. Trevor Cope also got into the action with a 6-yard scamper midway through the
The Leopards would answer with touchdown runs by their quarterback too, as Pleas would score on runs of 23 and 18-yards. But it was an 11-yard pass from Pleas to DaQuan Carter and a two-point conversion with just 4:48 remaining that set up a chance for the Leopards to tie at the end.
After holding the Rebels on their possession, the leopards took over at their own 44-yard line with 3:26 remaining in the game. They moved down to the Rebels 13 before a sack of Pleas and two penalties forced the Leopards
into a desperation pass to the end zone on a fourth and 23 situation. That is when Gilbert came up with the game-clinching interception.
“I think that’s kind of a playoff type game,” Crestview’s Paul Cusick said. “I thought going in that is how it would be. I knew they were a very solid team, they have the playoff experience, they have some great athletes, they’re well coached, and their kids played their hearts out.”
“We just made a couple more plays then they did,” Cusick added. “It could have gone either way there, but our kids responded.”
“We had a hard week of practice, the guys did everything I asked them to do, we just came up short on the bad end of the scoreboard,” Cylar remarked about the loss.
The Leopards would move the ball all the way down to the Crestview 12 yard line with 1:39 left in the game. After a sack, with Liberty facing 4th and 18, Crestview’s Gilbert would get an interception in the endzone to seal the game.
Crestview improves to 3-0 on the season. Liberty falls to 1-2.