Colts overcome fog and Liberty

CLARKSBURG – Al Johnson seemed to cover more of the Liberty High School football field than did the fog that rolled in early Friday night.

He caught eight passes for 145 yards and two touchdowns, intercepted a Liberty pass that would have resulted in another score had a penalty behind him not negated it and he ran for another yards to help Philip Barbour to a 28-7 victory over winless Liberty.

“We knew where he was at and what he was doing,” lamented Liberty coach Robert Shields. “We just didn’t tackle him.”

“Al had a huge game for us,” Philip Barbour coach Curtis Bodkins said. “Any time you can get Al the ball out in the flat and in space, good things are going to happen.”

Johnson’s play made for an easy transition from back-up to starter for junior quarterback Tyler Titchnell, who replaced the injured Dillon Newman. Titchnell completed seven of his first 10 passes, all to Johnson in the first half. He finished the game with 12 completions in 16 attempts for 199 yards.

“I thought Tyler Titchnell stepped into a stressful situation and did a great job,” Bodkins said.

The Colts, 3-1, broke open a nailbiter with two late scores in the fourth quarter. Starting in the third quarter, Philip Barbour marched 75 yards in 16 plays and ate up more than eight minutes off the clock. Dylan Johnson slid between his blockers from two yards out to give the Colts a two-touchdown lead with just six minutes left in the contest. Dylan Johnson was the workhorse of the Colts’ rushing attack, carrying the ball 22 times for 50 yards.

Philip Barbour scored three minutes later, this time needing only five plays on a drive started by Johnson’s interception. Titchnell decided against passing the football, rolled right as he tucked it away and sprinted six yards to the end zone to give the Colts the 28-7 edge with three minutes left in the game.

“It was a battle,” Bodkins said. “That was one of the hardest games I’ve ever coached. The seniors stepped up, and I’m real proud of our effort.”

Liberty, 0-3, jumped out to an early lead, 7-0, in the first quarter when Jaylen Bartley ran in from the 1-yard line. Bartley was the Mountaineers’ leading rusher in the game, gaining 91 yards on just 10 carries in the first half. He did not play in the second half because of an injury.

“We (gave up) some big plays early, but we tightened up,” Bodkins said.

Philip Barbour rallied back in the final minute of the quarter when Titchnell hooked up with Al Johnson, who benefited from a Liberty tackler slipping on the moist turf, for a 40-yard touchdown.

“That has been our Achilles heel this season, the little things,” Shields said.

The duo would hook up again as time was running out in the second quarter, this time from 29 yards away to give Philip Barbour a 14-7 lead at intermission.

Philip Barbour hosts Tucker County on Sept. 27, while Liberty plays host to Weir that same night.