By Jim Irish
Bastrop had no answer for Liberty Hill’s Slot-T offense in an 81-31 shellacking at Memorial Stadium on Friday.
Liberty Hill’s offense has befuddled Central Texas teams for years. The Bears (5-5 overall, 2-4 in District 13-5A DII) also fell under the spell.
Liberty Hill running backs Ben Carter and Noah Long ran at will in the misdirection offense, combining for 528 yards rushing and seven touchdowns. Make that eight touchdowns between the two if you count Long’s 31-yard reception for a score.
Carter had 15 carries for 270 yards and touchdowns of 13, 47, and 99 yards.
Long was almost as efficient with 258 yards on 12 carries and touchdowns of 41, 41, 71, and 71 yards.
Liberty Hill also scored on an onside kick by Bastrop. Austin Fulford pick up the short kick by Isaac Dugger and sprinted 50 yards for the touchdown.
Liberty Hill’s 81 points were the highest total this season. The Panthers (6-3, 4-1) are in second place in district with a home game remaining against San Antonio Pieper. They have won four consecutive contests, but the three losses are unusual for a team that moves deep in the playoffs each season.
Bastrop, which has struggled with injuries at quarterback, started Braden Tuck at signal caller. The senior completed 11-of-34 passes for 328 yards and four touchdowns. Six of his passes were dropped. He had no interceptions.
Keyshon Moore, who started at quarterback in last week’s loss to Lockhart, was Bastrop’s offensive weapon. The 5-foot-8 junior dazzled with his speed, catching five passes for 215 yards and touchdowns of 75, 10, and 65 yards.
On the 75-yard touchdown, Moore beat Liberty Hill defender Sebastian Evans but came back for the reception and then sprinted away from him.
Jaelyn Gratten, a 6-2, 155-pound junior, grabbed three passes for 91 yards and a 43-yard touchdown.
Bastrop’s running game was stopped in its tracks by Liberty HIll’s small but agile defense. The Bears managed only 23 rushing yards on 18 carries. They lost two fumbles.
Dugger converted a 27-yard field goal for Bastrop in the first quarter.
The Bears dropped their final three games but finished stronger than last season at 2-8 — Jake Griedl’s first as head coach.
Jim Irish is a freelance writer in Bastrop, Texas