By Mike Maltais
There were no early departures at the Homecoming varsity football game last Friday evening between the host Liberty Bell Mountain Lions and visiting Bridgeport Mustangs, because the final outcome wasn’t decided until the closing seconds of the contest.
In an evenly balanced contest between two well-matched teams, the Mountain Lions and Mustangs traded scores all night.
Junior linebacker Jacob McMillan got the game rolling in the home team’s favor when he stripped the pigskin from a Mustang ball carrier to set up quarterback Chip Jones for a keeper play that gave Liberty Bell a 7-0 lead with less than three minutes off the first-quarter clock.
Sophomore Derek Alumbaugh made it 14-0 when he scored on an 11-yard dash with less than two minutes remaining in the quarter.
Bridgeport struck back early in the second quarter with a pass play and extra point that closed the gap to 14-7. Then midway through the second quarter, the Mustangs pounced on a Liberty Bell fumble in the end zone, and added a two-point conversion to give them their first lead of the night, 15-14.
Junior Charlie Thornton-White took the Bridgeport kickoff on a 52-yard romp that put the Mountain Lions in good scoring range, but a fumble on the Mustang’s 12 yard line gave Bridgeport the ball. The Mustangs didn’t waste the opportunity and connected on a 24-yard pass for their third TD to go ahead, 22-14.
After Homecoming festivities at the half, Thornton-White ran for a TD midway through the third quarter and a two-point conversion knotted the teams at 22-all.
Bridgeport again bounced back on a TD run with three minutes left in the quarter, but the extra point kick attempt was blocked to leave the Mustangs with a six-point lead, 28-22. When Liberty Bell’s drive stalled, the Mustangs used the final seconds of the quarter to complete a pass play to the Mountain Lions 8 yard line at the buzzer.
With first and goal at the start of the fourth quarter, Bridgeport ran the ball in with 10:50 remaining on the clock to take a 35-22 lead.
A Liberty Bell drive downfield put the Mountain Lions on Bridgeport’s 12 yard line after Bridgeport was charged with pass interference. Another Jones keeper put Liberty Bell in the end zone, but still down 35-28 with less than three minutes to play.
The Mountain Lions then recovered an onside kick after Bridgeport touched the ball. Liberty Bell got as far as midfield before a fourth-down pass intended for Garett Dornfeld was broken up by Mustang defenders giving Bridgeport the ball — and the game — with 1:34 remaining.
The Mountain Lions will travel to Waterville for a non-league game against the Shockers on Friday (Oct. 24). Oroville will be in town on Oct. 31 for Liberty Bell’s final home game on Senior Night.