Argyle Rallies in Second Half to Eliminate Liberty-Eylau For Second Consecutive Season
ARLINGTON -- Argyle eliminated Liberty-Eylau for the second consecutive season, and for the second time the margin of victory was three.
Argyle scored 20 straight points in the second half to erase a nine-point deficit and oust the Leopards, 32-29, Friday night at AT&T Stadium for the Class 4A Division I Region II championship.
The Eagles (13-1) advanced to the semifinals where they will meet Abilene Wylie at 7:30 p.m. next Friday from Baylor's McLane Stadium in Waco.
Liberty-Eylau, which had its season ended with a 45-42 loss to Argyle in the same round a year ago, finished at 12-2.
"This hurts," said Leopards coach Steve Wells. "We put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears in all season since the summer."
Liberty-Eylau built a 21-12 lead just 47 seconds into the third quarter and seemed poised to seize complete control, but a pair of costly turnovers on back-to-back possessions turned into a 22-21 Argyle lead with 3:51 to play in the third.
Following a Leopards three-and-out, Argyle took advantage of a busted coverage as quarterback Dane Ledford connected with an uncovered Drew Estrada for a 58-yard touchdown, which pushed the Eagles' lead to 29-21.
A disastrous offensive series for Liberty-Eylau led to great field position for Argyle, which ultimately led to a Caleb Holt 41-yard field goal, which upped the Eagles' advantage to 32-21 with 7:36 remaining.
Liberty-Eylau scored moments later on a 25-yard touchdown pass from Freeman to Decorian Meadows on third-and-long, and the ensuing two-point conversion -- a pass from Freeman to Thurman Morbley -- cut the Leopards' deficit to 32-29 with 6:03 to play.
But Argyle killed the remainder of the clock, converting a key fourth-and-9 for 19 yards to the Leopards' 4-yard line. With L-E out of timeouts and less than two minutes remaining, Argyle went into victory formation.
"To come up that short … it's sad, we've got a great group of seniors, and felt like we had a chance to win," Wells said. "We just came up a little bit short."
Freeman, in his final high school game, passed for 201 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He also added 104 yards and three scores on 22 carries.
"We broke every record offensively that I think Liberty-Eylau's ever had," Wells said. "Ke'Mon Freeman, like his nickname 'Cadillac,' a great athlete, and the rest of this senior bunch … we've got 31 seniors; great group of kids, and I feel terrible for them for coming up short. I wish I could change it, but I can't do that. There ain't no do-overs in life."
Liberty-Eylau senior defensive back Andre Wiley Jr. was carted off the field with an apparent head/neck injury, which delayed the action for about 15 minutes early in the fourth quarter.
As he was leaving the field, Wiley gestured to the crowd.
"I know the good news was he was moving his extremities and everything, but other than that, I don't know yet," Wells said of Wiley in the minutes following the game.
Liberty-Eylau dominated in the first half statistically, outgaining Argyle by more than 100 yards, while forcing three Eagles turnovers.
Freeman's 3-yard scoring run, and ensuing two-point conversion pass to Garyco Witcher with 43 seconds remaining in the second quarter gave the Leopards a 14-12 lead going into halftime.
And on L-E's fourth play of the second half, Freeman broke free for a 55-yard touchdown to increase the lead.
The Leopards then forced an Argyle punt, but L-E fumbled on the return and Matthew Horton recovered for the Eagles at the Leopards' 31. Taylor Sweatt's 12-yard touchdown run cut the Argyle deficit to 21-19 with 6:39 to play in the third.
Liberty-Eylau fumbled on the second play of the ensuing series, and Argyle's David Bearden recovered at the Leopards' 39, leading to a Holt 39-yard field goal which gave Argyle the lead for good.
"We fumbled the punt on a great run, then we had the turnover right after, back-to-back," Well said. "We had kinda taken control of the game there. We've been real fortunate this year with not turning the ball over, but we had those couple, and that hurt."
Ledford completed 13 of 19 attempts for 163 yards with a touchdowns and an interception, and added 65 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Estrada caught four passes for 115 yards, while Sweatt finished with 85 yards and a score on 25 carries.
Argyle took the game's first lead after Estrada returned an L-E punt 43 yards inside the Leopards' 15. After a personal foul and offsides penalty, Ledford's 4-yard touchdown run put the Eagles in front, 7-0, with 7:59 to play in the opening quarter.
Liberty-Eylau had the ensuing possession end on downs at the Argyle 13, but the Eagles couldn't take advantage. However, a 43-yard punt pinned L-E at its own 1-yard line.
But on first down, Freeman hooked up with LaDerrick Gray for 62 yards, and Freeman's 1-yard scoring run six plays later got Liberty-Eylau on the board. The extra point bounced off the upright, leaving L-E trailing 7-6 early in the second.
Holt booted a 28-yard field goal to push Argyle's lead to 10-6 with 4:06 until halftime.
Argyle's Dylan Sadler intercepted Freeman and returned it 25 yards to the L-E 9, but the Leopards recovered a fumble on the first play. However, Freeman was sacked in the end zone for a safety, which gave Argyle a 12-6 advantage.
The Eagles returned the kickoff to the L-E 48, but once again fumbled on the first play of the series. The Leopards traveled 50 yards in nine plays, converting a fourth-and-3 to set up Freeman's go-ahead touchdown just before the half.
Argyle 32, Liberty-Eylau 29
Class 4A Division I Region II Final
At AT&T Stadium, Arlington
Liberty-Eylau 0 14 7 8 -- 29
Argyle 7 5 17 3 -- 32
ARG--Dane Ledford 4 run (Caleb Holt kick), 7:59.
LE--Ke'Mon Freeman 1 run (kick failed), 8:43.
ARG--FG Holt 28, 4:06.
ARG--Safety, Freeman sacked in end zone, 2:46.
LE--Freeman 3 run (Garyco Witcher pass from Freeman), :43.
LE--Freeman 55 run (Daulton Turner kick), 11:13.
ARG--Taylor Sweatt 12 run (Holt kick), 6:39.
ARG--FG Holt 39, 3:51.
ARG--Drew Estrada 58 pass from Ledford (Holt kick), 2:24.
ARG--FG Holt 41, 7:36.
LE--Decorian Meadows 25 pass from Freeman (Thurman Morbley pass from Freeman), 6:03.
First Downs 19 18
Total Yards 342 322
Rushes-Yards 32-141 46-159
Passing Yards 201 163
Comp.-Att.-Int. 13-27-1 13-19-1
Fumbles-Lost 2-2 2-2
Penalties-Yards 8-52 6-50
RUSHING--Liberty-Eylau, Ke'Mon Freeman 22-104, Kameron Levingston 5-19, Lamont Byrd 4-16, Arymis Johnson 1-2. Argyle, Taylor Sweatt 25-85, Dane Ledford 18-65, Gage McCook 1-8, Drew Estrada 2-1.
PASSING--Liberty-Eylau, Freeman 13-27-1--201. Argyle, Ledford 13-19-1--163.
RECEIVING--Liberty-Eylau, Thurman Morbley 4-50, Garyco Witcher 4-38, Decorian Meadows 3-42, LaDerrick Gray 1-62, Byrd 1-9. Argyle, McCook 5-21, Estrada 4-115, JC Chalk 4-27.