Handley comes up just short against Liberty 49-47

Posted: November 16, 2013

By KEVIN TRUDGEON
The Winchester Star
WINCHESTER -- The Handley football team already owned one come-from-behind victory featuring a game-winning field goal over Liberty this season.
On Saturday the Judges did everything they could to get a second.
Trailing by two with the ball late in the fourth quarter, Handley (7-4) engineered a 54-yard drive that featured a big fourth-down scramble from quarterback WIll Dearing and set them up with a first-and-10 from the Liberty 34-yard line.
But a three-yard scramble by Dearing, an incompletion and a shovel pass to running back D.J. Frisby that lost two yards left the Judges facing a fourth-and-nine from the 33 with only two options -- go for it or bring on Nick Marshall to attempt a 50-yard field goal into the wind.
Handley coach Tony Rayburn elected to go for it and senior Jason Morgan appeared to be open on the left side, but Dearing's pass fell incomplete and Liberty took over on downs to hold on for a wild 49-47 victory at the Handley Bowl in the first round of the 4A North Region playoffs.
"We were kicking into the wind, so we didn't feel comfortable about our chances from the 30. That's a long field goal, especially into the wind," Rayburn said. "Nick's got a great leg, but once we got tackeld for a loss [and pushed back to the 33-yard line] we knew we had to go for it."
It was a tough ending to a game that featured more than 900 yards of total offense, four lead changes and three ties between the two teams.
Liberty (7-4) rushed for 401 yards on 44 carries behind quarterback Aaron Walters (12 carries for 129 yards and three touchdowns) and running backs Nelson Hogan (13 carries for 95 yards and one touchdown), Ja Quan Sinclair (nine carries for 76 yards) and Martin Parker (six carries for 78 yards and one touchdown).
Not to be outdone, Handley junior D.J. Frisby churned out 180 yards on the ground, 160 of which came in the second half, and two touchdowns and quarterback Will Dearing threw for 226 yards and two scores.
After a Marshall 30-yard field goal sent both teams into the locker room tied 23-23 at halftime, the Judges held 10-point leads twice in the fourth quarter, the last of which came after Frisby went 80 yards untouched up the middle to make it 47-37.
But Liberty answered quickly with a 7-play, 55-yard drive that was capped by Walters finding wide receiver Garrett Utterback on third-and-10 for a 13-yard score and after a Dearing interception, his second of the game, Walters put the Eagles back on top with a 40-yard run that featured a spin move in the hole and a leap over a would-be tackler down field.
Trailing 49-47 after the extra point sailed wide right, Handley started on its own 20-yard line with 3:46 left in the game. A pair of Frisby runs and a personal foul penalty on Liberty got the ball out near midfield and facing fourth-and-three at the Liberty 37, Dearing rolled left and then dove for three yards and the first down.
But with the clock winding down, the Judges couldn't get any closer and a game-winning field goal attempt from Marshall that looked all but certain just a few plays earlier never materialized.
"I thought it was going to end up like last game," said Frisby, referring to the Judges' 45-42 win over the Eagles back on Aug. 31 that saw Handley overcome a 21-point deficit in the fourth quarter and win the game on a last-second  28-yard field goal from Marshall. "We felt like we had it, we were right there. We just came up a little short."

For full details, see Monday's edition.