QUINLAN, Texas—Liberty-Eylau figured out the Quinlan Ford offense at halftime, and it was all over from there.
The Leopards won their fourth game in a row, wrapped up a share of the District 7-4A, Division I championship and No. 1 seed in the playoffs, and allowed just 111 yards of total offense in the second half of a 56-35 rout of the Panthers Friday at Hobart Lytal Memorial Stadium.
Liberty-Eylau (5-5, 4-1) will play Brownsboro in the 4A, Div. I bi-district round. That game is set for 7 p.m. Thursday at Pine Tree's Pirate Stadium in Longview.
Decorian Phillips threw for 344 yards and four touchdowns for L-E, which rolled up 415 yards of total offense. Phillips also rushed for 39 yards and a score on two carries.
Mahleik Darty caught five balls for 96 yards and three TDs—all in the first quarter, Isaiah Cross had eight catches for 153 yards, and Ralph Crabtree added 76 yards rushing and a score.
El-Amin Greer hauled in a 25-yard scoring pass from Phillips late in the third quarter, when Ford netted just 18 yards of offense. Kelston Joseph also had a short TD run after Shannon Roy's 58-yard punt return to the Panther 2.
Roy scored from 35 yards out to become the fourth L-E runner to go for a touchdown, and Ford responded, against mostly backups, with an 11-play, 78-yard scoring drive.
Linus Beierschmitt rushed for 147 yards and two scores for Ford (5-5, 0-5), and David Welch added 139 yards and the late TD on 16 carries.
Phillips and Darty hooked up on a trio of touchdown passes in the first quarter, propelling the Leopards to a 21-7 lead in the first.
Phillip was 4-of-5 passing on the opening drive, and Crabtree's first run of the game covered nine yards to get L-E into the red zone.
Crabtree raced 6 yards on the next play, and Darty hauled in an 11-yard strike for the score with 9:20 left in the quarter.
Liberty-Eylau forced a three-and-out, and three consecutive completions by Phillips resulted in another score. Darty got free behind the Panther defense, made the catch deep and walked into the end zone for a 14-0 Leopard lead.
Liberty-Eylau again forced a punt, but this was sailed over the return man's head. He raced back to retrieve the loose ball, but fumbled the ball after touching it.
Eli Chambers recovered for Ford in the end zone to cut the deficit to 14-7.
The Leopards again marched 63 yards for another score. Phillips was 5-of-7 passing with a 30-yard TD to Darty with 2:13 left in the first.
Dylan Jackman capped the ensuing Ford drive with his 19-yard scamper to paydirt, and following a three-and-out by L-E, Beierschmitt broke free on a 44-yard jaunt around the left side for the tying score.
Just 36 seconds later Ralph Crabtree raced 15 yards for a Liberty-Eylau touchdown, set up on a shovel pass to Cross that covered 81 yards. A pass on the PAT fell incomplete.
Beierschmitt scored from 8 yards out with 5:44 left, and the extra point gave the Panthers the lead (28-27).
Phillips hit on all three passes to cover 23 yards, Crabtree ran 7 yards, and the quarterback knifed his way through the Ford defense for a 28-yard score. Crabtree ran for the 2-point conversion to go up 35-28.
Darty intercepted Ford after the Panthers worked their way into the red zone in the final minute of the half.
The Leopards piled up 388 yards of total offense before intermission, and Ford had 257 yards—234 on the ground.
Liberty-Eylau 21 14 14 7 — 58
Ford 7 21 0 7 — 58
LE-Mahleik Darty 11 pass from Decorian Phillips (Steven Goben kick), 9:20.
LE-Darty 45 pass from Phillips (Goben kick), 6:52.
FORD-Eli Chambers fumble recovery in end zone (Gio Landaverde kick), 4:34.
LE-Darty 30 pass from Phillips (Goben kick), 2:13.
FORD-Dylan Jackman 19 run (Landaverde kick), 10:05.
FORD-Linus Beierschmitt 44 run (Landaverde kick), 7:57.
LE-Ralph Crabtree 15 run (pass failed), 7:21.
FORD-Beierschmitt 8 run (Landaverde kick), 5:44.
LE-Phillips 28 run (Crabtree run), 3:45.
LE-El-Amin Greer 25 pass from Phillips (Goben kick), 3:18.
LE-Kelston Joseph 2 run (Goben kick), 0:55.
LE-Shannon Roy 35 run (Goben kick), 4:52.
FORD-David Welch 4 run (Landaverde kick), 0:46.
RUSHING—Liberty-Eylau, Crabtree 12-76, Phillips 2-39, Joseph 4-16, Roy 1-35. Ford, Beierschmitt 30-147, Welch 16-139, Jackman 1-19, James Hoff 3-14, Chambers 6-(minus 3).
PASSING—Liberty-Eylau, Phillips 19-28-0-344, Isaiah Cross 1-1-0-5. Ford, Beierschmitt 3-7-1-32, Kobe Jennings 1-1-0-20.
RECEIVING—Liberty-Eylau, Cross 8-153, Darty 5-96, Greer 3-38, Dazawion Cooper 3-57, Eric Saldonia 1-5. Ford, Dustin Fullbright 1-21, Chambers 2-11, Beierschmitt 1-20.