Liberty High was given a reality check Friday night by the Ridgeview running game. The Wolf Pack dominated Liberty by rolling up 357 net yards rushing and controlling the clock in a 26-16 win at Liberty.
"Our kids played hard and held on to the ball," Ridgeview coach Dennis Manning said. "Turnovers have been a problem for us. We held on to the ball tonight and we started executing."
Ridgeview quarterback Kamari Cotton-Moya led the way with 182 rushing yards on 24 carries. Running back Brandon Tripp had 25 carries for 135 yards, with 109 coming in the first half.
Liberty, coming off back-to-back games when it shut down the running games of Clovis-Buchanan and Fresno-Central, allowed 219 yards rushing in the first half when Ridgeview built a 20-3 lead.
The Patriots (3-2) got back in it when they scored on their first third-quarter possession, an 8-yard pass from Josh Medina to Ross Puskarich, but Ridgeview regained the momentum on its next possession.
The Wolf Pack ate up 7:40 of the clock before turning the ball over on downs at the Liberty half-yard line.
And the Patriots gained nothing on three plays, leading to a short punt that gave the Wolf Pack a first down at the Liberty 29 yard line.
This time, Ridgeview scored on Cotton-Moya’s 5-yard run. The point-after kick missed, but the Wolf Pack led 26-10 with 2:52 remaining.
Liberty wasn’t through.
Needing two touchdowns and two 2-point conversions to tie, the Patriots scored quickly, going 80 yards on four plays, capped by Corbin Jountti’s 27-yard run to pull within 26-16 with 2:06 left.
But Liberty’s slim hopes faded when the conversion pass fell incomplete.
Ridgeview wrapped it up moments later when the ensuring onside kick went out of bounds, giving the Wolf Pack possession and leaving Liberty out of time outs with two minutes remaining.
The Wolf Pack ran out the clock.
“We had a lot of confidence,” Cotton-Moya said. “One thing that motivated us a lot was the (Bakersfield Californian) newspaper this morning that said Liberty would win 28-13. Everybody across the board picked against us. We came out and took it.
“We executed the whole game. Coach Manning preached to us all week: We’ve got to win every possession.”
Tripp sat out much of the third quarter after banging up his elbow while playing defense as he tackled Jountti.
“That’s the cool part,” Manning said. “He got banged up, but Myshjaun Williams came in (four carries, 21 yards) and did a good job for us.
“Then Tripp came back and got some tough yards. And Kamari did a great job running the offense.”
“They were just giving me a rest,” Tripp said. “I just wanted to get back on ‘O’ and get the ball and pound for a first down.”
Ridgeview had 17 rushing first downs as Liberty couldn’t get the Wolf Pack offense off the field.
“We have a good team with a great attitude,” Manning said. “It was just a matter of time before we started competing.”
Jountti finished with 20 carries for 136 yards.
Liberty quarterback Medina was 14-of-22 passing for 118 yards with a touchdown and an interception.