Photo by Don Nelson Liberty Bell’s Enrique Whites hit the turf after being tackled by Bridgeport’s Nicanor Palacios in the Mountain Lions’ big win.

Photo by Don Nelson
Liberty Bell’s Enrique Whites hit the turf after being tackled by Bridgeport’s Nicanor Palacios in the Mountain Lions’ big win.

By Don Nelson

The Liberty Bell High School football team turned the corner — thanks to its running backs turning the corners on several long runs — to come away with its first win of the season on Friday (Sept. 30), a 41-0 shutout of Bridgeport on the Mountain Lions’ home field.

Seth Stevie found the end zone three times as Liberty Bell’s balanced attack led to four running touchdowns and two more scores on passes. Kicker Leif Portman-Bown was five for six on extra point attempts, missing only when an errant snap prevented him from getting his foot on the ball.

Meanwhile, the Mountain Lions’ defense picked off passes and stopped fourth-down conversion attempts to keep the Mustangs corralled.

The game started inauspiciously for the home team as Liberty Bell lost a fumble on its first possession. After the Mountain Lions held, Stevie snatched a Bridgeport punt on the dead run and rocketed into Mustang territory.

Photo by Don Nelson Mountain Lion defenders converged on a Bridgeport ball carrier at Friday’s game.

Photo by Don Nelson
Mountain Lion defenders converged on a Bridgeport ball carrier at Friday’s game.

Quarterback Tanner White hit receiver Brady Moriarty for a big gain, then running back Enrique Whites swept around the right side and made it a quick-strike possession with a 26-yard touchdown run. Portman-Bown’s extra point made it 7-0.

Liberty Bell took over on downs as Bridgeport stalled, and Whites scampered around the left side for another long run. But the Mountain Lions also gave up the ball on downs — then got it right back as Brayden White picked off a Bridgeport pass. The Mustangs returned the favor by immediately intercepting a Tanner White pass to end the first quarter.

The Mountain Lions again took over on downs. Eden Davis and Stevie ripped off a couple of long runs, and Stevie sealed the deal with an 11-yard trip to the end zone. That put Liberty Bell up 13-0 after the failed extra point attempt.

With about two minutes to go in the half, Cash McClane battled for a Bridgeport pass and came away with it for Liberty Bell’s second interception. The Mountain Lions quickly went to work. Stevie carried twice, the second one a 55-yard bolt to the end zone after breaking around the left corner. The extra point made it 20-0 at halftime.

Stevie added another big chunk of yardage on Liberty Bell’s first possession of the second half, taking the Mountain Lions inside the Mustang 10-yard line. Tanner White scored on a two-yard keeper and Portman-Bown booted the extra point through.

Liberty Bell again took over on downs and struck quickly. Tanner White made a back-on-his-heels heave that found Moriarty on the left flank, and the receiver took it the rest of the way — 65 yards — for the Mountain Lions’ fifth touchdown. Portman-Bown made it 34-0.

Liberty Bell’s last score came with less than a minute left in the third quarter when Tanner White hooked up with Stevie on a 25-yard touchdown pass. Portman-Bown’s extra point finished the night’s scoring for the Mountain Lions. It might have been more, but an apparent 45-yard touchdown run by Davis was called back because of a penalty.

Liberty Bell coach Steve White said the Mountain Lions continue to improve on the fundamentals of blocking and tackling. “Every week these players get better,” the coach said. “They became a team and not just individuals. It’s an awesome thing to see.”

The Mountain Lions, now 1-4 on the season, will need to be fundamentally sound again when they travel to Tonasket on Friday (Oct. 7). The Tigers are 4-0 in league play and 4-1 for the season. On Oct. 14, Liberty Bell hosts Waterville in the Mountain Lions’ homecoming game.