By Paul Meadors, Sports Editor
It was a game billed as Love vs. arguably the Valley’s best defensive front seven. And unfortunately for Buchanan, Love stood tall for Liberty of Bakersfield as quarterback Jordan Love threw darts all over the field, leading his team to a resounding 27-6 victory over the hometown Bears at Veterans Memorial Stadium in week four of the football season.
The impressive game against the Bears’ imposing defensive end combination of Bryson Young and Ben Parker, linebacker Zach Presno and defensive back Trevon Cummings, was just what the doctor ordered for Liberty, a popular pre-season pick for the D-1 Valley title who started off the season 0-2.
Love, the Utah State commit, ended up 13-21 for 213 yards and two touchdowns on the night.
Liberty head coach Bryan Nixon knew what his team was up against, calling the Bears a very good defensive team and noting how quickly they fly around the field. But the fast-paced Patriot offense proved too much, playing with precision and passion all night, seemingly a step ahead of the Bears at all times.
Buchanan head coach Mike Jacot was stoic and fairly upbeat after the game, but was fully aware of his team’s shortcomings in the game.
“We were outplayed in all phases of the game,” said Jacot, in his third year coaching the Bears. “We really struggled on offense but I have to give Liberty credit. They did a much better job executing than us.”
After falling behind 14-0 at halftime behind a 12-yard touchdown throw from Love and a 21-yard run from Braxton Prince, the Bears offense tried to play catch up all game. The problem: it’s not the Bears strength, especially when they’re missing senior running back Chuby Dunu who dislocated his shoulder and two injured offensive linemen.
And it wasn’t until Liberty increased it’s lead to 27-0 in the fourth quarter that Coach Jacot tried to insert some life into his offense by replacing senior starting quarterback Josh Friesen with junior Nolan LeForge.
LeForge responded by throwing a 25-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Blake Wells with 7:07 left in the fourth quarter. It was a case of too little too late for the Bears, but a chance to give LeForge some game time experience.
Do we have ourselves a quarterback controversy? Not so fast, says Jacot.
“Friesen is still our guy, our leader,” said Jacot. “He does a lot of good things for us but it was a chance for us to give Nolan a good look. He has a good arm and has a bright future and we never know when we are going to need him.”
But all was not lost in the game in which Buchanan saw its season record fall to 2-2. Junior standout linebacker Presno, a junior who has committed to play baseball at Fresno State University, leaped and snagged an errant Love pass in the second quarter and sophomore running back Trevor Ervin rushed for a hard-fought 78 yards on 19 carries.
For Jacot and the Bears, their bye week came at a perfect time.
“We are looking to get ourselves healthy and get some guys back on the mend,” Jacot said. “Then we’ll hit it hard from there and work on some fundamentals and get ready to play Porterville.”