ARGYLE — The Liberty Christian Warriors grinded out a victory that Mark Bowles would have been proud of Friday night.
The contest really wasn’t over until the final seconds, but the Warriors prevailed 40-37 over Addison Trinity Christian on Friday night.
Liberty took time before the game to honor Bowles, the program’s founder and first head coach, who retired in 2009 with a career record of 212-73 and three state championships. Bowles died Sunday in a motorcycle accident. Dozens of former players participated in the pre-game ceremony, which ended with a “Warrior Walk” the length of the field with current Liberty seniors.
The Warriors (6-2, 3-1 in TAPPS 1-I) held the lead the entire contest, but the Trojans (5-3, 1-3) never really went away. Liberty’s JonAaron Howell turned the game toward its conclusion, capping a great defensive sequence with 4:37 to play and the Warriors up 33-30.
The Trojans were trying to covert fourth-and-5 at the Liberty 32. The Warriors sent a delayed blitz after Trinity quarterback Christian Hutzler and it worked. Hutzler couldn’t step up to make his throw. Another Liberty defender tipped the pass toward Howell, who wrapped it up and returned it into Trojans territory.
Set up at Trinity’s 42-yard line, the Warriors ran the ball four times, capped by quarterback Colby Moore’s 18-yard touchdown run with 2:35 left in the game. The score gave Liberty a 40-30 lead, but it wasn’t over yet.
The Trojans drove the length of the field to cut the lead 40-37 with 27 seconds left. Hutzler connected with running back Nahshon Ellerbe for a 6-yard touchdown pass.
That’s where the comeback ended. The Trojans attempted an onside kick, but Liberty’s Danny David Linahan recovered the kick to end the contest.
Statistically, it was a huge game for several players.
Ellerbe was nearly unstoppable through the air. The junior back rushed for only 44 yards and a touchdown because of what the Warriors did to stuff the run. But in the open field, Ellerbe was a beast, catching 13 passes for 151 yards and three touchdowns.
Once it was clear the running game would have a tough night, Hutzler threw the ball 43 times, completing 26 for 276 yards and the three scores. But he also threw two interceptions and Liberty converted both into scores.
Howell rushed for 185 yards — including a 79-yard touchdown run in the first half — and two touchdowns for the Warriors. He also caught five passes for 51 yards.
Moore threw for 181 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions and rushed for 108 yards and two more scores. Wide receiver Justus Lee caught four passes for 69 yards, including both of Moore’s scoring strikes.
It was an eventful night elsewhere in the district. Plano Prestonwood Christian defeated Fort Worth Nolan 36-34 to break the first-place tie in the district. Liberty is now in a second-place tie with Nolan.
Liberty Christian 40, Addison Trinity Christian 37
Addison Trinity Christian
LB — Justus Lee 24 pass from Colby Moore (kick failed)
LB — JonAaron Howell 79 run (Cole Austin kick)
TA — Christian Hutzler 21 run (Alexander Beiersdorf kick)
LB — Colby Moore 26 run (kick failed)
TA — Nahshon Ellerbe 15 pass from Christian Hutzler (Alexander Beiersdorf kick)
TA — Alexander Beiersdorf 48 FG
LB — JonAaron Howell 6 run (Cole Austin kick)
TA — Nahshon Ellerbe 11 pass from Christian Hutzler (pass failed)
LB — Justus Lee 20 pass from Colby Moore (Cole Austin kick)
TA — Nahshon Ellerbe 1 run (Alexander Beiersdorf kick)
LB — Colby Moore 18 run (Cole Austin kick)
TA — Nahshon Ellerbe 6 pass from Christian Hutzler (Alexander Beiersdorf kick)
Rushing — LB: JonAaron Howell 18-185, Colby Moore 14-108, Hugh Jeffery 2-19, Matt Marrs 4-17, Ryan Vollenhals 1-1, Team Stat 1--1, TA: Nahshon Ellerbe 18-44, Christian Hutzler 6-28, Brock Thomas 2-26.
Passing — LB: Colby Moore 17-28-2-181, TA: Christian Hutzler 26-43-2-276, Alec Bove 1-1-0-2.
Receiving — LB: Justus Lee 4-69, JonAaron Howell 5-51, Hunter Griffith 4-34, Cody Hughes 1-21, Danny David Linahan 3-6, TA: Nahshon Ellerbe 13-151, Brock Thomas 8-90, Parker Oliver 5-35, Christian Hutzler 1-2.