NORTH RICHLAND HILLS — In a turnover-plagued game, Fort Worth All Saints Episcopal upset Liberty Christian 37-20 at Birdville Fine Arts Athletic Complex Friday night in a TAPPS Division II regional playoff game.
All Saints (6-5) advances to the regional final to face the winner of Midland Christian (6-4) and Fort Worth Christian (6-3).
Liberty Christian, which shut out All Saints 31-0 on Oct. 28, ends its season at 10-2.
Both teams turned the ball over, particularly early on. Each fumbled twice. Liberty was intercepted twice and All Saints once. The difference was All Saints was able to capitalize on its opponent’s miscues while Liberty was unable to do so.
“They were the better team tonight,” Liberty Christian coach Jason Witten said. “Give them a lot of credit. We didn’t take care of the football. They did a good job of going after and getting it. We put ourselves in a hole and could never come out of it. The team that doesn’t turn the ball over is the team that usually wins. We put our defense in a hole there and couldn’t overcome it.”
As for his team’s win earlier in the season, Witten observed, “We knew they were going to come back. They’re a well-coached team. We knew they would give it their best shot in the second go-around. We felt like we had a good week. We were prepared for it. They made a lot of plays. ... There’s lots for us to learn from.”
All Saints built a 24-0 lead early in the second half, all after turnovers on Liberty’s side of the field. All Saints scoring drives began on the Warriors’ 28-, 6-, 17- and 36-yard lines.
Neither team was able to generate much offense for the better part of three quarters.
The first score was a 35-yard pass to Jayvont Williams from quarterback Taylor Spriggs on All Saints’ first possession. It came three plays after an attempted punt by Liberty was hiked over the head of Brady Janusek, also one of the quarterbacks. Janusek recovered at his 28-yard line, and the Saints took over there.
The second score, early in the second quarter, came after an attempted lateral by the quarterback to a running back in the backfield was recovered by the Saints’ Cavin Chumley at the Liberty 6-yard line. After advancing the ball only 3 yards in three plays, the Saints had to settle for a 20-yard field goal by Cole Sorokolit and a 10-0 lead.
The third score was a touchdown after an interception by Robert Sanders. The Saints went 17 yards in four plays capped by Jaylon Spriggs’ 1-yard off-guard run.
It gave All Saints a 17-0 halftime lead.
Midway through the third quarter, Aundre Minnifield rushed 35 yards up the middle to grow the lead to 24-0. It came two plays after Chumley’s second fumble recovery at the Liberty 36.
Two plays before that, Janusek had blocked a 34-yard field goal attempt, and teammate Gage Lawson returned it to his 36-yard line. But on the first play from scrimmage, the Warriors turned it right back over.
Finally, Liberty got on the scoreboard with 4:56 left in the third quarter to make it 24-6. Janusek, who had two of Liberty’s three touchdowns, ran 12 yards to climax a three-play, 33-yard drive. He was aided by teammate Quinton Brown’s 44-yard kickoff return.
All Saints, however, replied with a perfectly thrown pass by Spriggs — 48 yards to Chris Palfreeman, who caught it in stride at about the 15. It came late in the third quarter for a 31-6 lead as the two teams alternated touchdowns for the remainder of the game.
In the first half, Murphy Ren, a junior defensive lineman for Liberty, had two fumble recoveries. But his team was unable to convert a fourth down at midfield. On the second one, the Warriors turned it right back over on the first play with the errant and mishandled lateral.
Also in the first half, Blake Werner intercepted at the goal line for Liberty and returned it to his 35-yard line. But again Liberty turned it over on downs at the All Saints 40.
Liberty was held to 27 yards on 24 carries, forcing Jacob Vaughan, who alternated with Janusek, to have to go to the air often. Vaughan was 19 of 38 with two interceptions for 184 yards and two fourth-quarter touchdowns.
All Saints rushed 41 times for 106 yards as Minnifield led the way with 76 yards on 15 carries and a touchdown. Spriggs was 8-17-1 passing for 169 yards and three touchdowns. The senior also rushed for one more score.