DUBLIN — Chase Brecht’s three rushing touchdowns were more than enough for Olentangy Liberty as it opened up league play with an emphatic 34-7 win over Dublin Coffman in Coffman Stadium on Friday evening.
Brecht finished the game with 181 rushing yards to go along with the three scores, and he added three catches for 32 yards in a dominant performance. Liberty amassed 378 yards of total offense as a team, and the Patriots defense forced five turnovers while holding Coffman to just 53 rushing yards.
Liberty took the opening kickoff of the game and marched 63 yards to the Coffman 7-yard line. A pair of carries by Brecht inched the Patriots closer, but J.J. Sebert was sacked on third down, forcing a field goal attempt. Connor Ingram’s 23-yard attempt was good and Liberty took an early 3-0 lead over Coffman.
Coffman appeared poised to answer quickly on the ensuing drive, its first possession of the evening. After moving the ball across midfield, quarterback Mason Maggs connected with Trey Hedderly for back-to-back completions totaling 30 yards to move the ball to the Liberty 15-yard line.
Coffman’s Michael Anderson scampered into the end zone on the next play, but the touchdown was negated by a holding call. Three consecutive incomplete passes and a sack of Maggs forced Coffman outside of field goal range, and the fourth down attempt was turned away by the Liberty defense.
The two teams traded stops late in the first quarter before Liberty finally came up with the game’s first touchdown.
Taking over at their own 43-yard line, the Patriots drove 57 yards on 12 plays, including a crucial third down completion from Sebert to Tyler Monteiro. Facing a fourth and goal from the 3-yard line, Brecht lined up to take the snap and stretched into the end zone for a touchdown.
Ingram’s extra point was good and Liberty upped its lead to 10-0 with 5:25 remaining in the first half.
Liberty added three more points late in the second quarter after Ingram drilled a 42-yard field goal at the buzzer, sending the Patriots into the locker room with a 13-0 lead over Coffman.
Disaster struck for Coffman just seconds into the second half. Anderson received the opening kickoff for the Rocks, but his fumble after a short return was recovered by Liberty’s Patrick Duggan. Liberty needed just four plays to cash in on the turnover as Sebert’s screen pass to Alex Stackhouse went 21 yards to the end zone for a touchdown and a 20-0 lead.
In desperate need of a sustained drive, Coffman turned the ball over on downs on each of its next two possessions, setting up Liberty for the knockout blow early in the fourth quarter.
Taking over at his own 41-yard line, Brecht carried three times for 26 yards to begin the drive, moving the ball to the Coffman 33-yard line. Three plays later, Brecht raced into the end zone from 24 yards out to increase the Liberty lead to 27-0 just a minute into the final quarter.
Coffman broke up the Liberty shutout on the ensuing drive following an 87-yard catch and run by Garrett Peterson. Sam Moloney found the end zone a play later, getting the Rocks on the board and cutting the Liberty lead to 27-7 with 10 minutes to play.
Brecht capped off the evening with his third rushing touchdown of the game at the five-minute mark, putting the finishing touches on Liberty’s third consecutive win.
“We started off a little slow (this season), but now that we’ve gotten rolling, we’re starting to make some moves,” Brecht said following the game.
Brecht, who seemingly got stronger with every carry on Friday, said he began to feel more comfortable as the game progressed, which led to his big performance.
Liberty head coach Steve Hale said of his team’s progression, “Our offensive line has come along nicely this year, so we’re really pleased with where they’re heading. Our young quarterback is getting better every week. He’s more confident, more mature … the progress (of the team) has been fun to watch and we’re excited about the direction.”
Hale praised his defensive staff for the job they’ve been able to do in getting the defense ready to play while the offense found its footing this season.
“It gives us time to figure out the offense. Every time they’re getting three-and-outs and getting off the field with no points on the board, it makes us feel more comfortable to call plays aggressively and take chances on offense,” he said.
Next up, Liberty (4-2, 1-0) will take on undefeated Upper Arlington (6-0, 1-0) Friday night in Powell.
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.