Liberty coach Bryan Nixon's first game back at Centennial was a smashing success in every way.
The Patriots, playing tough and aggressive on both sides of the ball, scored 31 second-half points en route to a 44-7 Southwest Yosemite League victory over the Golden Hawks on Friday night.
"There's been a lot of good memories here (Centennial) and a lot of great people and great kids and those will always be with me," Nixon said when asked about returning to play his former school. "I'm really, really proud of the way our kids played this evening."
Liberty ends the regular season with a sparkling 9-1 record and is now 7-3 all-time in Freedom Bowl games, having won the past four.
Anthony Mariscal and Quincy Jountti each scored two touchdowns, and Josh Medina passed for a pair of scores to lead the Patriots to their fourth consecutive victory of the season.
Mariscal had 15 carries for 118 yards and a touchdown, plus caught a 22-yard TD. The versatile 6-foot, 185-pound junior was all over the field making plays on offense and defense.
"I got to give it back to my line," Mariscal said. "Without them I wouldn't have any of the yards. And coach Nixon, he had a great scheme."
Liberty's swarming defense completely shut down Centennial's vaunted running game, holding the Golden Hawks to 56 yards rushing until Brandon Robinson scored a touchdown on a 95-yard run with 33 seconds left in the game.
The Golden Hawks longest play of the game prior to Robinson's last-minute breakaway was z18 yards.
"Let's give them the credit," Centennial coach Kevin Sneed said. "They played a great defensive football game. We hung in there tough for a half. We just couldn't hang in for the whole thing. They did a really incredible job. We're not a Division I football team right now."
Liberty's hard-hitting defense forced four Centennial fumbles, two of which the Patriots recovered.
Liberty also had one interception of Golden Hawks quarterback Andrew Hansen, who finished 8-of-18 for 25 yards.
"I was very pleased with our (defensive) game-plan," Nixon said. "Coach Renz did and outstanding job. Our defensive staff did amazing and our guys executed it to perfection. They have some very explosive guys and our kids came out and played really well tonight."
Medina ended up 9-of-16 for 86 yards.
Liberty led 13-0 at halftime powered offensively by Mariscal's two touchdowns.
The Patriots limited the Golden Hawks to 28 yards on 16 carries in the first half. Centennial had just 60 total net yards before intermission.
Mariscal's heroics weren't limited to the offensive side of the ball. He stymied Centennial's best scoring opportunity of the first half, racing to the outside and tackling Robinson two yards short of a first down on a Golden Hawk's a fourth-and-5 play from the Liberty 9-yard line.
Mariscal capped off Liberty's first drive of the game with a 22-yard touchdown pass from Medina.
After Zach Sullivan missed a 36-yard field goal on the Patriots next possession, Liberty forced a Centennial three-and-out and then quickly scored on a 13-yard Mariscal draw play up the middle.