PLANO — Liberty Christian’s JonAaron Howell intercepted three passes Friday night — two of which he returned for touchdowns — as the Warriors easily sailed past Pope John Paul II 42-7 in TAPPS I-1 action.
The Warriors (5-2, 2-1 district) kept pace in the competitive district with their second straight league win.
Howell bookended the Warriors’ evening as he scored their first and last touchdowns on interceptions.
The first came after Liberty wide receiver Gavin Menichini fumbled at the Cardinals’ 1 on the Warriors’ first drive of the game. The fumble was recovered by John Paul’s Tommy Angeloni.
Two plays later Howell picked off quarterback Zach Norris at the John Paul 25 and raced for the end zone, giving the Warriors a 7-0 lead with seven minutes left in the first quarter.
Howell picked off another pass in the first quarter, an interception that came in the Liberty end zone as the Cardinals (0-7, 0-4) were trying to tie the game. Howell returned the interception to the Warriors’ 42 and quarterback Colby Moore and the offense turned the miscue into a 14-0 lead. Moore capped the drive with a 12-yard touchdown pass to Justus Lee.
With the game well in hand in the final quarter, Howell corralled an errant Norris pass for the third time in the game, this time at the Warriors’ 35. Howell sprinted down the sideline, cut across the field and evaded a couple of tacklers to finish the 65-yard return with 10:26 left in the game. That gave the Warriors a 42-0 lead and triggered a running clock for the rest of the game in accordance with TAPPS’ mercy rule.
Howell also rushed for 21 yards on four carries.
Moore and the offense handled the rest. Moore threw for 181 yards and three touchdowns. Two of those scores went to Lee, who led the Warriors with four receptions for 72 yards. Moore’s third scoring strike went to Cody Hughes on the Liberty’s second drive of the second half.
Moore scored a fourth time, this time as a receiver. His backup, Drew Hunnicutt, started the third quarter and led the Warriors down the field and hit Moore on a 31-yard strike, giving the Warriors a 28-0 lead.
Meanwhile, Liberty’s defense stymied the Cardinals all night as Howell threw four interceptions — the fourth went to Hunnicutt. The Cardinals gained 248 total yards, most of which came on the ground and courtesy of Danan Brown, who had 18 carries for 79 yards.
Liberty Christian 42, Plano John Paul II 7
Plano John Paul II
LB — JonAaron Howell 25 interception return (Cole Austin kick)
LB — Justus Lee 12 pass from Colby Moore (Cole Austin kick)
LB — Justus Lee 17 pass from Colby Moore (Cole Austin kick)
LB — Colby Moore 31 pass from Drew Hunnicutt (Cole Austin kick)
LB — Cody Hughes 24 pass from Colby Moore (Cole Austin kick)
LB — JonAaron Howell -11 interception return (Cole Austin kick)
JP — Danan Brown 5 run (Andres Nunez kick)
Rushing — JP: Danan Brown 18-79, Donovan McNair 4-39, Merek Pierce 8-37, Austin Barnes 1-9, Zach Norris 4-0, Kelly Boiko 1--1, LB: Colby Moore 9-77, Drew Hunnicutt 2-23, Ryan Vollenhals 4-23, JonAaron Howell 4-21, Zach Keller 4-7, Will McClain 1-4.
Passing — JP: Zach Norris 15-26-4-85, LB: Colby Moore 13-18-0-181, Drew Hunnicutt 3-7-0-52.
Receiving — JP: Austin Barnes 2-50, Merek Pierce 2-19, Kelly Boiko 2-8, Matt Buchland 1-5, Keegan Ferer 4-4, Preston Prevost 1-3, Danan Brown 3--4, LB: Justus Lee 4-72, Cody Hughes 3-59, Danny David Linahan 3-34, Colby Moore 1-31, Gavin Menichini 3-16, Hunter Griffith 1-14, JonAaron Howell 1-7.