By Jeremy Stafford
BEALETON -- Sherando wide receiver Dominique Porter stood on the sideline, the Friday night lights dancing on the red and yellow and green turf field at Liberty High School.
Porter yelled to his brother, Tre, who stood 20 yards deeper than the rest of the Sherando defense, the eyeshield of his helmet glistening. Warriors quarterback Jalen Brisco yelled to Tre Porter, too. The offense, for four quarters, had done its part, giving Sherando a three-point lead over undefeated Liberty in the game's fading minutes.
Time for the defense to finish what the offense started.
Dominique Porter held his black helmet to the cloudless sky, and the Sherando faithful boomed, and Tre Porter soaked it all in.
Liberty quarterback Erik Whitmer, from the Sherando 34, hurled a pass to the left corner of the endzone.
The ball skipped off the turf and 5.8 seconds shone on the clock. Dominique Porter thrust his helmet back to the sky, and the Sherando faithful boomed.
Whitmer bobbled the snap, found his grip, dropped back, sent a rifle to the right sideline. Warriors defensive back Brady Cook came down with the pass. The clock spilled away. Sherando swarmed Cook to celebrate a 27-24 victory.
"They're my good friends; I knew they could do it," Brisco said of the Sherando defense. "I was yelling out on the field to them, 'Let's go,' and they came out with a good play, and we won."
Fitting that a Liberty turnover ended the game, considering the Eagles committed five turnovers Friday night: three fumbles and two interceptions. Tre Porter nabbed one of those interceptions, and scooped up one of those fumbles.
He also had a 24-yard touchdown reception.
Brisco and tailback Joe Ojo scored Sherando's other offensive touchdowns and linebacker Kevin Vallejos returned a Liberty fumble 21 yards for a touchdown.
Just a week after Sherando's first loss of the season, an unfortunate shortcoming in overtime at Handley, Tre Porter recalled the importance of beating Liberty: "We knew that if we lost this game we wouldn't hear the end of it. So we had to come in strong and do our jobs, and do what we had to do and finish the game."
That sums up Sherando's performance splendidly; the Warriors did what they had to do to beat one of the best teams in the state.
Ojo peeled off 103 yards on 32 carries -- not a typical night for the incendiary Ojo, but enough to keep the ball in Sherando's hands. Enough to put Brisco in position to score on his 13-yard run in the second quarter. Enough to burn the clock down to :33 by the time Liberty began its final drive.
Brisco, for his part, rushed for 70 yards and passed for another 103 yards.
Dominique Porter, before he hoisted his black helmet to that cloudless sky, caught four passes for 27 yards. Cody Miller had 21 yards receiving, as did Terry Wood.
Sherando coach Bill Hall didn't credit the win to any one player's performance. For him, it was a team effort, though he did say Tre Porter, behind his glistening eyeshield, "has the heart of a lion."
"I think our guys have worked way too hard and long to not have a chance for success long-term," Hall said. "They weren't just gonna come here and show up. They had something they wanted to accomplish, and I think that probably wasn't more evident than in that last drive: They made plays when they had to against a really good team."