Pleasant Grove made a statement Friday night at Liberty-Eylau’s Harris Field. The sixth-ranked Hawks have not trailed in four games this season, including Friday’s 51-14 win that spoiled the Leopards’ Homecoming.
The Hawks scored twice in the first quarter on touchdown runs by Josh Roberts and Bruce Garrett for a 14-0 advantage. Liberty-Eylau would answer back in a matter of seconds on a 67-yard touchdown pass from senior Decorian Phillips to Isiah Cross. It didn’t seem to concern Pleasant Grove. The Hawks scored another six-pointer on a 11-yard run by Garrett.
Pleasant Grove (4-0) piled up 490 total yards, including 411 on the ground. Fullback T.J. Cole ran for 133 yards and a touchdown, while Chauncey Martin rushed for 106 and two TDs. Martin was also outstanding on defense with two interceptions and two fumble recoveries. Liberty-Eylau finished the game with six turnovers, three fumbles caused by big-time hits.
“There’s no doubt that we’re playing dang good football right now,” Pleasant Grove coach Josh Gibson said. “Liberty-Eylau has one of the best football programs in the state of Texas. They’ve shown that against Gilmer and Carthage. They show that year-in and year-out with their athleticism. I’m just proud of our kids because we keep getting better every week.
“We’ve won nine of our last ten games going back to last season. This team is on a roll, and they play that way. It started coming together defensively last year against Gladewater and Atlanta. Getting wins like this are signature wins for our program.”
Liberty-Eylau had opportunity in second quarter
It was still a competitive football game late in the second quarter with the Hawks leading 20-8. Cedric Dickerson intercepted a PAT pass attempt and returned the ball 99 yards for two points. Quarterback Decorian Phillips brought a packed house to their feet with a dazzling 41-yard touchdown run that made it 20-14.
Liberty-Eylau (1-4) was driving again in the final seconds when Phillips was hit hard and fumbled in PG territory and Martin recovered for the Hawks with 26 seconds left before intermission. Dillon Williams’ 41-yard field goal with four seconds left made it 23-14 at halftime.
Austin Toler scored his third defensive touchdown of the season 58 seconds into the second half after scooping up another Leopard fumble and returning it 10 yards. Martin and Cole would add touchdown runs in the third quarter to put the game out of reach.
“These kids are being opportunistic, making big-time plays,” Gibson said. “I couldn’t be prouder of this defensive unit, holding one of the most prolific offenses in 4A to fourteen points. That was a heck’uva job. We’ve still got a long ways to go to achieve the goals we had set.”
L-E coach Steve Wells was obviously dejected with the outcome.
“We sort of self-destructed in the third quarter,” he said. “We had a chance to score some points, but six turnovers and potential dropped touchdown passes killed us. They fumbled three times and got back on the ball each time. Pleasant Grove controlled the line of scrimmage, that was the difference.
“I told my kids after the game we’ve got two weeks to get ready for a big home district game.”