Liberty Bell, turnovers too much for Jr. Cyclones

Published 11:30 pm Tuesday, September 15, 2015

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A new generation of Cyclones stepped onto the field at Citizens Bank Stadium Tuesday night, as T.A. Dugger Junior High was hoping to make the most of its first game inside the new stadium that will be the players’ home over the course of their football careers.

Unfortunately, the Jr. Cyclones were left with a sour taste as the Liberty Bell Patriots were two steps ahead of the home team in taking a commanding 36-0 victory enhanced by several costly Jr. Cyclone turnovers.

“They came in a couple of steps ahead of us tonight,” Jr. Cyclone head coach Johnny Burleson said. “They came into the game ready to play, and we weren’t ready.”

Already up 14-0 with a little over four minutes to play before half time, the Patriots (6-0) scored on a touchdown run by Malik Bowman. Chris Thomas converted the two-point conversion, and Liberty Bell was in control, 22-0.

The Jr. Cyclones (5-1) went to work after the score and looked to put some points on the board before the intermission, but Patriot Nick Copenhaver stepped into the path of Jr. Cyclone quarterback Jaxton Holly’s pass and returned the pick-six 70-yards.

Bowman was good on the two-point conversion, and Liberty Bell was rolling, 30-0.

T.A.Dugger had two more possessions before the half, but once again the turnover bug struck as the Jr. Cyclones lost both on fumbles.

At the half, the Patriots were in cruise control at 30-0.

If there was any doubt about the contest, the Patriots quickly put that to rest on the opening drive of the third quarter.

After losing three yards on a second and 10 yards to go, Patriot quarterback A.J. Stewart found his big receiver Josh Santiago down the Liberty Bell sideline for a 69-yard scoring pass.

The two-point conversion failed, and the scoreboard read 36-0 in favor of the Patriots.

A 33-yard field goal attempt by placekicker Kade Hensley never had a chance in the only scoring opportunity the Jr. Cyclones had the rest of the contest, as the Patriots took the battle of the unbeaten teams as both came into the contest without a blemish in the loss column.

“You can’t turn the football over to a good football team and expect a good outcome,” Burleson said. “Sometimes you have to get kicked down to get back up. The coaches will get the film tomorrow and get the guys back up and ready for next week’s game.”

In the junior varsity game, the Jr. Cyclones had the upper hand, dealing the Patriots a 29-6 setback to gain a split in the two games for T.A. Dugger at Citizens Bank Stadium.