NORTH LIBERTY — Iowa City Liberty did its best to remove all doubt.
On the cusp of a possible first playoff berth for the second-year football program, the Lightning leaned on their stellar running attack to make their case.
“Our goal is the playoffs,” Liberty senior tailback Kaleb Williams said after the Lightning ran for 434 yards and steamrolled Clinton, 56-0, in the Class 3A District 5 finale for both teams Friday night at Liberty High School. “Get as high as we can. But to get to there, we had to finish this game so we just took it one play at a time. We prepared for this team just as hard as any other team.”
The win secured the second spot in the district for Liberty (7-2, 4-1 District 5) behind fourth-ranked North Scott (8-1, 5-0). The Lightning entered the game with an RPI of 16, which is used to determine at-large playoff qualifiers by factoring in your record, the record of your opponents and even your opponents’ opponents.
“We will find out in the morning,” Liberty Coach Jeff Gordon said. “Either way, in or out, we are going to be in there squatting in the morning. Either getting ready for next season or next game.”
The Lightning scored six touchdowns in the first half, highlighted by touchdown runs of 35, 14 and 24 yards by Williams, who finished the game with 123 yards in just seven attempts.
“Our linemen just do a great job of just opening up the holes,” Williams said. “We do it so much in practice. I have so much trust in them and they have so much trust in me. Every time we do those run plays, we already know what is going to happen.”
Liberty junior tailback Max Tafolla added 196 yards on the ground, plus a 25-yard touchdown run the second quarter. Tafolla pushed his rushing yardage total to 1,052 this season, the first Liberty player to top 1,000 yards.
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The Liberty defense posted its second shutout of the season as sophomore defensive back Luke Meyer intercepted his second pass this year in the second quarter.
Senior linebacker Dawson Zimmerman returned a third quarter punt 35 yards for a touchdown for the Lightning.
Clinton ends its season at 0-9, 0-5.
AT NORTH LIBERTY
Iowa City Liberty 56, Clinton 0
Clinton 0 0 0 0—0
Iowa City Liberty 21 21 14 0—56
ICL — Kaleb Williams 35 run (Ryan Nugent kick)
ICL — Jack Ankenbauer 15 run (Ryan Nugent kick)
ICL — Kaleb Williams 14 run (Ryan Nugent kick)
ICL — Kaleb Williams 24 run (Ryan Nugent kick)
ICL — Max Tafolla 25 run (Ryan Nugent kick)
ICL — Drake Woody 11 run (Ryan Nugent kick)
ICL — Dawson Zimmerman 35 punt return (Ryan Nugent kick)
ICL — Cole Tuttle 4 run (Ryan Nugent kick)
RUSHING — Clinton: Ulysses Patterson 11-64, Jai Jensen 4-3, Zach Hoffman 13-(-14), Treveon Bailey 1-11, Tavian Bailey 5-9; Iowa City Liberty: Max Tafolla 15-196, Kaleb Williams 7-123, Jack Ankenbauer 2-17, Drake Woody 1-11, Cole Tuttle 1-4, Darius Willis-Newell 5-82, Mike Luyeye 1-0, Carter Fedeler 1-1.
PASSING — Clinton: Jai Jensen 5-5-0-31, Zach Hoffman 3-7-1-15, Ulysses Patterson 0-2-0-0; Iowa City Liberty: Drake Woody 1-4-0-37.
RECEIVING — Clinton: Treveon Bailey 3-17, Ulysses Patterson 1-4, Nick Keis 1-3, Devan Galant 3-22; Iowa City Liberty: Ben Houselog 1-37.