Friday, October 16, 2009

Liberty beats rival Silverado second year in a row

By Anthony Fenech

Saturday, Oct. 17, 2009 | 12:52 a.m.

Forgive P.J. Taeao for smiling. He just doesn’t know any better.

The sophomore doesn’t know about losing. He can’t recall the blowouts and wasn’t around when Liberty became Silverado's gridiron doormat in 2003.

But ask the Patriots offensive lineman about beating the Skyhawks — which Liberty did for the second straight year Friday night with a 21-18 victory — and his grin will tell the story.

“Two for two,” said a beaming Taeao. “And I don’t want to lose to them for my whole career. It’s a rivalry and that’s how it goes.”

How the series between the two Henderson area high schools has gone of late can best be summed up by a second-down play late in the fourth quarter, with Liberty on its own 42-yard-line and the Silverado defense reeling.

As the Skyhawks defense crowded the line of scrimmage, desperately needing a stop with the clock passing the 1:30 mark, senior Samson Toalei took the snap and followed his blockers.

What ensued was the dominant Patriots offensive line bulldozing Toalei 20 yards down the field to seal the win.

“Our offensive line was pushing hard all game and that helped us pull out the win,” Liberty coach Rich Muraco said.

“We knew we matched them physically, but it was just a matter of getting the job done mentally, and we did.”

Thanks to a pair of touchdown runs by junior Teu Tai and a 1-yard score by sophomore Jordan Kapeli, Liberty took a 14-point lead into halftime.

But Silverado did not fade easily.

Silverado seniorTerran Madu-Jules, who limped off the field twice in the game, returned with a bang midway through the third quarter when he exploded for a 55-yard touchdown run, cutting the Liberty lead to three.

Early in the fourth quarter with Silverado driving, Toalei dove in front of a Trenton Tipton pass for an interception to halt the Skyhawks' momentum and balancing the game on the shoulders of Liberty’s offensive line.

“When we needed to eat the clock those last minutes, the guys came through,” Muraco said. “We told the (offensive) line before hand, if they want to win it’s on them.”

It was an especially emotional night for Toalei, who was left watching last year’s defeat of Silverado from the bench after transferring from Desert Pines.

“I remember sitting there last year not being able to be a part of it on the field,” Toalei said. “But first time or second time, it’s always a big win.”

Ty Byrd led the Patriots with 53 yards rushing on 12 carries, and Madu-Jules finished with 142 yards for Silverado.

“We continue to be a team of two halves,” Skyhawks coach Andy Ostolaza said. “But we did show a lot in the second half and that’s something we’ll carry into next week.”

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