CLINTON – The Iowa City Liberty football team set season-highs in multiple offensive categories in its lopsided 42-21 victory over Clinton Friday night, including points and yards from scrimmage.
But Lightning quarterback Drake Woody – or any other member of the first-year program – never even attempted a pass.
The River Kings were unable to stop a rotating trio of Liberty running backs, allowing over 400 yards on the ground to fall in the season finale on Senior Night at Coan Field.
Clinton coach Jon Wauford said his defense failed to stick to their assignments throughout the contest.
"We were scrambling around a little bit and we tried to get them settled down and hunker down in their gaps but we weren't able to stay in our gaps tonight," Wauford said.
After Liberty's Jack Ankenbauer punched in a 2-yard touchdown to cap a 11-play, 63-yard drive on the game's opening possession, Clinton unleashed eight consecutive rushes of its own to take the ball to the Lightning 5-yard line.
But Ethan Barry was stopped on a fourth-and-1 attempt to abruptly stop the River Kings momentum – and Liberty never looked back from there, scoring on three of its first four drives in the first half.
Clinton quarterback Kalvin Godette and Ulysses Patterson teamed up for a two-play scoring drive early in the second quarter, as Patterson broke off a 45-yard dash on the first play of the River Kings possession and Godette finished it off with a 15-yard scamper for a score, cutting the deficit to 14-7.
Trailing by a pair of touchdowns, Clinton marched deep into Liberty territory in the closing moments of the first half, seeking to take a one-score contest into the intermission and primed to receive the ball to start the third quarter.
But a costly holding penalty negated a completed pass to L.J. Henderson inside the Liberty 10-yard line, forcing a third-and-17, where the River Kings attempted a reverse-pass but Godette overthrew a wide-open Nick Hoffman in the end zone before tossing an interception on the next play.
"That was a big point of the ballgame and we needed to come away with points there but we couldn't execute the two-minute drill and win that situation," Wauford said.
Aside from Godette's touchdown in the second, Clinton also scored on a 20-yard rush from Patterson to cut Liberty's lead to a manageable 28-14 with just under five minutes remaining in the third quarter, giving the River Kings a glimmer of hope at a comeback effort.
But the Lightning quickly slammed the door shut, countering with a meticulous 10-play drive that ended with one of Kaleb Williams' two scores of the night to retake a three-possession advantage while shedding nearly six minutes of game time.
The River Kings fought to the end, however, as Godette found Barry for a 19-yard score with 2:53 remaining in regulation, which served as the contest's final points.
In the final game of its first-ever football season, Liberty, who does not roster a single senior, rushed for 435 yards and scored with four different players: Max Tafolla, Williams (twice), Ankenbauer (twice) and Dawson Zimmerman.
With the loss, Clinton ends 2018 with a 3-6 overall record and finishes 0-5 in Class 3A District 5 competition.
"It [the season] was disappointing and we are discouraged but that is what happens when you lose football games," Wauford said.