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Carlsbad jumps on Liberty early, cruises to 27-0 shutout victory

Michigan commit Zack Marshall had a passing and receiving touchdown in his Carlsbad debut.

CARLSBAD, Calif. -- Carlsbad entered Friday’s showdown with Bakersfield Liberty on a two-game winning streak but had not been able to find an offensive rhythm in consecutive six-point victories each of the past two weeks.

That all changed against the Patriots as Carlsbad scored on each of their first five possessions en route to a 27-0 victory over the reigning Central Section Division 1 champions.

Below are four takeaways from Friday's game.


Photo by Steven Silva

Photo by Steven Silva

30 minutes prior to kickoff on Friday, the Carlsbad student section was full. The ‘Loud Crowd’, completely outfitted in neon construction vests, sang along as the music blared. Shortly after, the Lancers took the field and picked right up on the energy.

Carlsbad forced an opening three and out from Liberty and proceeded to drive 52 yards for the opening score of the game less than four minutes into the first quarter.

“We had a lot more energy,” senior tight end Zack Marshall said, comparing Friday’s effort to the Lancers' recent games.

The Lancers held Liberty to only one first down over their three first quarter possessions and grabbed a 17-0 lead 11 seconds into the second quarter.

“The defensive coaches had a great gameplan for these guys,” Carlsbad head coach Thadd MacNeal said. “Offensively we got on them early and were efficient, so it felt pretty good.”


“So happy for our kids that we put a game together,” MacNeal said following the game.

Carlsbad entered Friday’s game with a 3-1 record but had not yet hit their groove. They allowed 71 total points in their first two games of the season, losing week three’s game against Inglewood.

They needed a last-minute drive to beat Mission Hills in last week’s game and failed to score in the second half against El Camino two weeks ago.

“We were pretty strong throughout four quarters,” MacNeal said. “The first four games we’ve been spotty throughout quarters.”

Scoring on the first five possessions of the game and shutting out the opponent helps to solve most problems.

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In his first game for Carlsbad after sitting out the first four games of the season due to transfer rules, Michigan tight end commit Zack Marshall wasted no time making his impact felt.

Junior quarterback Julian Sayin found Marshall for a nine-yard touchdown on the Lancer’s first possession that opened the scoring.

“I missed a couple blocks, messed a couple routes up, a little bit of first game nerves but still tried to have fun and play with all the effort I could,” Marshall said after the game.

Two possessions later, Sayin connected with Marshall on a bubble screen who then stopped and threw a strike to Justin Johnson in the back of the end zone who managed to get a foot down for the touchdown.

“You know what when coach came to me and said, ‘do you have an arm’, I said sure, I can throw it… Thank you God for letting me have an arm out of nowhere, I don’t think it worked like that in practice,” Marshall said.

If Friday’s performance is any indication, then he’ll be making a big impact on the Lancers throughout the second half of the season.

Adding another weapon to the arsenal of five-star quarterback recruit Julian Sayin might just be the piece that puts Carlsbad over the top in their quest for a first Open Division championship.


Liberty entered Friday’s game averaging 39 points per game. They were only able to move the ball across midfield twice against Carlsbad.

On their final possession of the first half, the Patriots drove down to Carlsbad’s 21-yard line and attempted a field goal that sailed right of the posts with just over 20 seconds until halftime.

Trailing 27-0 midway through the third quarter, Liberty found themselves in Carlsbad territory again but were unable to convert on fourth down and four from the 26-yard line.

“Stopping their run,” MacNeal said of the Lancer’s key on defense against Liberty. “It’s all about their run and we stopped it and were in good shape.”

The Patriots had not been shutout since the final game of the season against Buchanan in 2019 and were coming off a dominant 35-10 win over Central (Fresno) last week in which they racked up 385 total yards.

“I can’t get enough about how much pressure we put on the quarterback and our secondary was lockdown,” Zack Marshall said after making his Carlsbad debut.

All photos by Steven Silva