Injured Chaps team falls to Liberty at home 14-21

A hush came over Chaparral Stadium last Friday night as realization broke on the Chap crowd that the varsity football team was defeated by the Las Vegas Liberty High School Patriots 14-21. With the loss, the Chaps fall for only the third time in the past 18 games and go to 1-1 on the season so far.

“It was a disappointing loss for the team,” safety senior Luke Hodes said. “We played our hearts out, but in the end we weren’t able to finish the game off. We had so many chances to take the lead or win the game, but we were never able to capitalize and we will have to work to get better at that.”

The game started off with a surprise as quarterback senior Matthew Gense got the starting nod from head coach Todd Dodge to take the place of injured star quarterback senior Sam Ehlinger. Sam, who suffered his injury during the second quarter of the Katy game, watched on from the sidelines with his left knee in bandages as Matthew took the reins of the offense. Wide receiver senior Connor Howard also suffered a hamstring injury during the Katy game, and was unable to take the field against the Patriots. During the first half, the Chap offense wasn’t able to get into a rhythm. Liberty, as a result was able to strike first with a long touchdown pass to wide receiver senior Darion Acohido to take a 0-7 lead in the second quarter. The Patriots were able to take that 0-7 lead into halftime.

“We weren’t happy heading into halftime,” defensive end senior Evan Smith said. “We knew that it was unacceptable to be down in our house at the half. We knew that we needed to have a big second half, and go on some big drives to get ourselves back into the game, but we also knew that seven points wasn’t an insurmountable lead. We knew we would be able to step it up in the third and fourth quarter.”

The Chaps did just that — with the aid of a blocked punt, the Chaps were able to tie the game up 7-7 on the back of running back junior Nakia Watson, and it gave the Chaps a much needed boost in the second half. Liberty responded though and went on a long drive to retake the lead 7-14. The Chaps were on their way to tie the game up, but running back senior Steele O’Connor fumbled in the red zone to set up another long Liberty scoring drive and the Chaps watched the Liberty lead grow to 7-21 in the fourth quarter. Matthew was able to respond though, and he hit wide receiver junior Jake Ramos with a 68-yard pass to trim the Patriot lead to 14-21. Liberty’s defense was able to stop the Chap scoring for the rest of the game though, and won the game 14-21 in Chaparral Stadium.

“We played hard but we couldn’t come up with the win,” Evan said. “We really gave it all we got. Matthew played a great first game, but we just couldn’t pull out a win. We will come back next week with a vengeance and ready to play.”

There is no word on Sam or Connor’s injuries at this time. The Chaps will play Pflugerville next week in Chaparral stadium. With the loss, the Chaps fall to being ranked sixth in the State and 36 ranked in the nation.