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Vikings pick off Liberty chances at win

Winning the turnover the battle is something football coaches preach religiously and Liberty head coach Shawn Daignault knew mistakes would be a crucial factor in last week’s contest against Central Catholic.

Unfortunately, four Liberty turnovers were the deciding factor in a hard fought contest that saw the Vikings come away with a 14-7 victory at BASD Stadium.

Central’s Nasir McLean came away with three interceptions on the night, the final one coming with 2:30 left in the game with the Hurricanes taking over at midfield.

McLean hauled in the clinching play of the contest by tracking a deep ball over the middle of the field to bring it in among a trio of bodies to push the Vikings to 2-0 on the season, while handing Liberty (1-1) their first loss.

On a night between two evenly matched teams, four interceptions by Liberty quarterback Tommy Mason ultimately proved to be the difference.

“We’re a better team if we make fewer mistakes,” said Daignault. “Bottom line we shot ourselves in the foot repeatedly. Obviously, everyone sees the turnovers and penalties, but we had alignment issues and communication issues and it’s on us. I really believe if we make less mistakes, we win the game.”

Central opened up the scoring in the second quarter when Conner Aquino threw a four-yard TD pass to Griffin Patridge with 10:24 to play in the first half.

The Hurricanes answered on their next possession when Mason found Josh Farrell for a 23-yard score less than two minutes later to even the game.

McLean’s second interception of the night led to Central’s second and decisive touchdown late in the third quarter when he picked off Mason and returned it inside the Liberty red zone. A facemask penalty on the return gave the Vikings the ball at Liberty’s nine yard line, where Travis Foster ran it up the gut on the first play of the series for a Central touchdown.

Mason finished the night 7-of-18 for 119 yards to go along with his touchdown and the turnovers, but despite his tough night, Daignault made sure he let his young signal caller know that he still believes in him.

“I told him after the game that my faith in him hasn’t wavered a second,” Daignault said. “He’s going to make mistakes, but he’s also going to make a lot of plays for us. He carries the burden because he’s the quarterback, but I believe in him a lot.”

The Hurricanes must now prepare for their toughest test of the season on Friday night, traveling to Whitehall (2-0), a team that just blasted Bethlehem Catholic 49-14 last week.

It will also be a historic night in Zephyrland, as Saquon Barkley will be in attendance to have his jersey retired at halftime.

“It hurts to lose and you could see it in their faces leaving the field,” said Daignault. “The good thing is these kids work hard and they’ll get back to work because our schedule doesn’t let up.”