Dublin Jerome took a 14-0 lead late in the second quarter, but host Liberty dominated things the rest of the way, earning a hard-fought 20-16 OCC-Cardinal Division win.
A holding call in the end zone with 11:06 to go in the game awarded the Celtics (1-4, 1-1 OCC) a safety to make it a four-point game with most of the quarter to play, but the Patriots (2-3, 1-1) made a fourth-and-goal stop at the one to preserve the lead and secure the win.
Jerome started fast, scoring less than three minutes into the game when Donovan Wilson ran 80 yards for a TD with 9:17 to go in the opening quarter.
The Celtics added to their advantage in the second, when Wilson again found the end zone, this time from three yards out to make it a 14-0 game after a successful extra point with 3:51 to play in the half.
The Patriots picked up the pace from that point on, though, scoring before the break when quarterback Joey Longhino connected with A.J. Motika from 43 yards out to make it a 14-7 contest at the 2:24 mark of the second quarter.
Liberty tied the game with 7:55 to go in the third when Longhino capped a scoring drive with a one-yard dart to Bryson Wray.
Jerome took a brief lead with the aforementioned safety, but, after the clutch stop on fourth down kept the game well at hand, Longhino again found Wray in the end zone — a three-yard strike to make it 20-16 with 5:02 to play.
The Patriots’ ensuing two-point conversion fell short, but it didn’t matter.
Liberty was on the short end of the running battle (265-85), but outgained Jerome (171-96) through the air.
Myles Robinson led the Patriot rushers with 49 yards on 14 attempts. Longhino was 12 of 20 passing with 171 yards, his three TDs and an interception while Wray led the receivers with four grabs, including his two touchdowns.
Jerome was led by Wilson, who had 120 yards on 16 attempts and his two TDs.