LIBERTY — The Liberty Blue Jays, coming off a week one win at Lee’s Summit, showed all the signs of a team poised to chalk up two straight victories to open the season.
After an effective offensive showing in the season opener, Liberty sputtered a bit in a 21-10 non-divisional loss to Park Hill on Friday, Sept. 6, on Hy-Vee Field at Liberty High School.
The Blue Jays (1-1) turned the ball over on downs four times, with three lost fumbles and one interception.
“They’re defensive line gave us some issues,” Liberty coach Chad Frigon said. “They’re very talented and we weren’t able to give Luke (Smith) the protection he needed and he had to improvise on the run. We’ll get better from it and learn from it.”
They’ll look to bounce back Friday, Sept. 13, with a divisional contest at Truman, who fell to 0-2 after a 49-3 loss to Liberty North on Friday, Sept. 6.
“We need to get back to executing back like we did in week one, regardless of who we play next week,” Frigon said. “Hopefully we can do that and get back in that groove we were in and take it into the conference season.”
In his second career varsity start, Smith, a junior quarterback, completed 13 of 27 passes for 108 yards with a touchdown and an interception. The Blue Jays totaled 163 yards of total offense, and only converted 3 of 20 third down attempts.
“Their defensive backs played well,” Frigon said. “They held our passing game in check, and I think they have an incredible defense and they should be very successful this year.”
Sophomore Wentric Williams rushed for 77 yards on 26 attempts, bringing his season rushing total to 206 yards.
“It’s a really good defense that was able to keep him in check,” Frigon said. “I thought he protected the ball well and I was pleased with how he ran.”
The Blue Jays scored their lone touchdown on a Caleb Cahill 11-yard touchdown pass from Smith with 1:14 left in the game.
Junior Alek Rottjakob knocked through a 23-yard field goal to put Liberty ahead 3-0 with 3:57 left in the first quarter.
But Park Hill tallied two touchdowns before the end of the first quarter to take a 14-3 lead. The Trojans made it a three-score advantage with a third touchdown with 1:55 remaining in the first half.