By EARL WATT
• Daily Leader
GUYMON — Fumbles, penalties and mental mistakes mounted Friday night for the Liberal Redskins, and despite trailing 32-21 with 3:38 to play, the Redskins put together a rally for the ages to earn a 42-32 victory against the Guymon Tigers.
The rally started when the Redskin defense held Guymon to a three-and-out late the fourth quarter, and pressure on quarterback/punter Colter Headrick forced a shanked kick that landed at the Tiger 30 yard line.
Two penalties and an incompletion later, Slader McVey connected with Tyson Deaton for a 30-yard touchdown pass to bring the Redskins within five, 32-27.
With less than four minutes to play, all Guymon needed to do was get two first downs, and the Redskins only had one time out.
Guymon got the first 10 yards quick with a toss sweep by Fernando Acosta, but after a five-yard penalty, Guymon again called Acosta’s number, but this time the Tiger fumbled, and the Redskins recovered.
Quarterback Slader McVey ran on a designed quarterback keep for three yards, and on second down fired the ball into the end zone. Jade Cathey was blanketed by two Tiger defenders, and six hands surrounded the ball.
But when the pile cleared, Cathey had the ball on his chance, and the touchdown gave the Redskins a 35-32 lead with 2:03 to play.
Guymon was forced into a second and 25,a nd a bad snap resulted in another Tiger fumble, and the Redskins recovered at the Tiger 20 yard line.
Liberal only needed a first down to lock up the win, but on second and seven, McPhail did a little better. The bruising running back broke through the Tiger front line and sprinted to the end zone to give the Redskins a 42-32 advantage. Guymon marched the ball all the way down to the end zone, but a Redskins interception as time expired preserved the 10-point win.
“We had a lack of focus early,” Liberal coach Wade Standley said. The second-year head coach showed emotion early in the game, and his intensity remained throughout the contest. “We had a bad week of practice, and we didn’t focus and we didn’t execute. But they never gave up,a nd they faced tremendous adversity.”
Much of that adversity came at their own hands.
Liberal committed 16 penalties for 176 yards. Many of those calls either extended Guymon drives or put the Redskin in long-distance situations that ended in punts.
They also had three critical turnovers that gave the Tigers two touchdowns.
The first came on a screen pass that was ruled a lateral. Cathey didn’t make the catch, Guymon scooped it up and darted to the end zone.
Another pass play to Cathey and long run ended with a fumble that was returned 85 yards for a Guymon touchdown.
When Liberal was on the march in the fourth quarter, McPhail fumbled to give the Tigers a golden opportunity to run out the clock.
It appeared that the mistakes were too much to overcome before the shanked punt and 21-point Redskin flurry in the final 3:38 that led to Liberal’s second win of the season.
Guymon didn’t quit after falling behind 14-0 early, either. The Tigers used virtually every trick in the book and ran the option to near perfection to claim the lead in the first half.
Headrick squirted away from the Redskin defense to score for the Tigers in the first quarter. Guymon scored early in the second on a 30-yard run by Braxton Dain before the missed lateral led to another Tiger touchdown.
Guymon then used a fake punt to extend a drive and add another touchdown to take a 26-14 lead at half.
Liberal scored on its first possession of the second half and was 15 yards away from taking the lead on its next drive when Cathey’s fumble was scooped up and returned for a touchdown.
Guymon appeared to go into the stall from that moment on, and Liberal finally got their chance in the final 3:38.
“This team came together as a family of brothers tonight,” Standley said. “Those young men refused to lose.”
After the game, the Redskin huddle overflowed with emotion. Not just exuberance for victory, but tears. The Redskins were drained physically and emotionally after the roller coast game ended with a Redskin win.
“We play with emotion,” Standley said. “That emotion was there because these young men are experiencing something they haven’t in a while. Sometimes you have to win the close ones and the ugly ones. Tonight, we did both.”
Liberal will open the Western Athletic Conference on the road next week against Hays.