Rampart got a scare from upset-minded Liberty, but Keion Cross guided the Rams to a big early lead and another win in the lopsided rivalry, 43-27, in both teams’ season opener.
“As a team, this is really a booster for us,” senior Seth Sheppard said. “We’re doubted right now, ranked last, and I hope this showed some people what we’re made of. This is a great start.”
Liberty trailed 30-20 late in the third quarter of The Gazette’s Game of the Week, but came no closer. The Lancers’ Ryan O’Connell finished with 10 catches for 285 yards and two touchdowns.
Rampart jumped out to a 15-0 late in the first quarter on two touchdowns from Cross. He got the Rams on the board first with a 13-yard run, then quickly tacked on another on a short scamper. The Rams’ two-point conversion was good and the game appeared headed the same direction as last season’s opener between the two teams, a 42-14 Rampart win.
“Everything on our offense runs through Keion,” Rampart coach Rob Royer said. “There were numerous times tonight he was one tackle away from busting some big runs. I was real proud of his progression from last year to this year.”
Midway through the third quarter, Shawn Bossert forced and recovered a Rams fumble for a 19-yard loss and the Lancers took over at their own 8-yard line. Moz Doria caught the pass, then the extra point pulled Liberty within 10.
The Lancers couldn’t get a critical stop on a long Rampart drive and Jack McReynolds ran in with 1:12 left in the third quarter to put the game away. Matt Lively slid in to block the extra-point attempt.
“We fought hard and made some mistakes, made some big plays, and some kids stepped up,” Royer said.
Up 15-0, the Lancers brought Cross down on an attempted 4th and 12. Liberty caught a break as O’Connell took Trevor Halverson’s pass and ran it in for a 55-yard touchdown with 2:13 remaining in the first half.
Three plays and 1:01 later, Rampart got it back with a three-yard run from Sheppard and added another two-point conversion to make it 23-7 heading into the half.
Jackson Beale got the second half started with a touchdown run on the first possession.
O’Connell found an opening with 7:34 to go in the third quarter. The two-point conversion attempt failed, bringing the score to 30-13.
Then came the Lancers’ rally. But Rampart’s Chris Schockey broke away for a 77-yard touchdown in the final minutes to quiet the crowd. O’Connell added one more score late.
Liberty’s Halverson finished 24-of-45 for 448 yards, with three touchdowns and 1 interception.
“I did really well out there I think,” Sheppard said. “I missed a couple sacks, but I’m going to come back to practice next week stronger, come to the next game stronger.”