The Pickens Blue Flame got their first win of the season, torching Liberty in the first half and holding off a late Red Devils’ charge Friday for a 17-13 victory.
“We needed this one, and we found a way in the end,” Pickens coach Chad Seaborn said. “After what we’ve been through the last few weeks, to fight for four quarters and find a way is something we can build on.”
Trailing 17-7 midway through the fourth quarter, Liberty put together its best drive of the night, capped by a 2-yard keeper by Brandon Alexander. A two-point conversion pass attempt failed, and the Blue Flame held to a 17-13 lead.
On the ensuing possession, Pickens’ backup quarterback Austin Clark found Antron Wakefield open down the seam. But Wakefield fumbled after a crushing hit and Liberty’s Austin McCall recovered to give the Red Devils one last chance.
But the Pickens defense was able to hold, stopping the Red Devils on fourth-and-five at the Pickens 30 to preserve the win.
“They were taking it to us pretty good right then, but our kids bowed their necks and found a way,” Seaborn said. “There was some bad and ugly in there, but there’s a lot of stuff we can build on.”
Midway through the opening quarter, Liberty’s Dalton James fumbled an option pitch deep in Red Devil territory, and the Blue Flame recovered at the 1-yard line. Austin Clark punched it in to give Pickens the early 7-0 lead.
Pickens’ Angus Anderson had two long touchdown runs called back in the second quarter due to holding penalties, but kicker Caleb Grant salvaged one of the possessions with a 47-yard field goal to push the Blue Flame lead to 10-0.
Anderson found the end zone again as he broke a 47-yard scoring run off of the left guard, splitting two defenders and racing to the goal line to push the halftime advantage to 17-0.
Late in the third quarter, Liberty’s Eddy Mathis intercepted a pass and returned it 31 yards deep into Blue Flame territory. Four plays later, Alexander kept it up the middle for a 5-yard score, cutting the margin to 17-7.