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Onto the Final for Eagles

By KC Star / 810 Varsity, 11/24/23, 9:45PM CST


Liberty North wins overtime thriller, 28-27, in Class 6 semis

Liberty North celebrates after kicking the game-winning extra point to advance to the Missouri Class 6 title game. (Video: Darryl Woods, 810 Varsity)

A matter of inches made the diference in traveling two hours to Columbia for a state title.

Liberty North capitalized off a blocked PAT in overtime, to beat Rockhurst, 28-27, on Friday night to advance to the Show-Me Bowl state-championship game for Missouri Class 6 high school football.

After a 21-21 deadlock in regulation, Rockhurst won the toss and took the ball first. The Hawklets drove to the Liberty North 2, and Hansen plunged into the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown and the hosts’ first lead of the night.

The Eagles blocked the PAT, so it was 27-21, as Liberty North’s offense huddled to counter.

And counter the Eagles did, with senior running back MicahJo Barnett scoring the tying touchdown and junior placekicker Bleu Renfrow nailing the extra point for a victory that sends Liberty North (12-1) to the state-title game next weekend.

The Eagles will play Christian Brothers College or De Smet in the Dec. 2 Show-Me Bowl state-championship game at Faurot Field in Columbia. CBC and De Smet play in the other Class 6 semifinal on Saturday at 1 p.m. in St. Louis.

The two played in Week 3 - also at Dasta Stadium - but Liberty North blitzed the Hawklets, 35-7. However, this time around, it was a classic from the start with a 7-7 halftime score, with Mayor Quinton Lucas in attendance for the season’s biggest game yet.

The Eagles had scored first, with junior quarterback Tillman Martin finding senior tight end Joe Hall for a 15-yard touchdown midway through the opening quarter.

Liberty North kept that 7-0 lead through most of the second quarter amid a classic defensive struggle between two 11-1 teams on a chilly night in Kansas City.

The Hawklets answered with 6 minutes, 16 seconds remaining until halftime. Senior quarterback Ethan Hansen connected with senior receiver Jack Bichelmeyer for a 23-yard catch-and-run touchdown.

The teams traded possessions to open the second half before Liberty North pulled ahead with an 18-yard touchdown run by senior running back Jacorey Love with 4:17 remaining in the third quarter.

Hansen connected with Bichelmeyer again, this time for a 72-yard touchdown, on the first play of the Hawklets’ ensuing drive. But Rockhurst’s conversion attempt failed, so the Eagles clung to a 14-13 lead.

Liberty North opened the final period with a drive that culminated in a 16-yard scoring dart from Martin to senior receiver JayShawn Ross, who caught the pass in hands stretched high above the Rockhurst defense.

Rockhurst fought hard down the stretch, forcing a turnover and forcing an Eagles punt. But the Hawklets couldn’t seem to convert those opportunities into points.

That is, until senior running back took a handoff from Hansen to the left side for a 35-yard Rockhurst TD with 3:37 to go. Hansen then hit Mitch Forbes with a pass for the two-point conversion, knotting the score at 21-all with just over three and a half minutes left.

Liberty North did its best to win in regulation with an ensuing drive that brought the visitors to the Rockhurst 15-yard line with 35 seconds remaining. But the Eagles’ 38-yard field goal attempt to win the game sailed wide left as the clock hit zeroes. So it was on to overtime.

Rockhurst finished at 11-2, and its first semifinal trip since 2018.

Liberty North has advanced to the state semifinals or beyond in four straight years, including last year's loss to CBC in the semis, and also in the state championship game in 2021.

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