The drama continued through the 48th minute of play, but when it was over the Liberty Bell High School football team hung on for its first victory of the 2017 season last Friday (Sept. 22), a 21-14 home field win over Soap Lake.
With an emphasis on defense, the Mountain Lions kept the Eagles under control for most of the night, except for a couple of big plays that kept Soap Lake in contention.
The Eagles opened the scoring late in the first quarter on a 53-yard pass play, successfully gambling on fourth down. The quarter ended with Soap Lake up 7-0.
Liberty Bell scored the next three touchdowns before Soap Lake registered a late touchdown.
The Mountain Lions’ Brady Moriarty scored on a 2-yard run up the middle on the first play of the second quarter, capping a 13-yard drive after an errant Eagle punt.
Soap Lake opened the second half with a drive from its own 29-yard line. But then Liberty Bell’s Finlay Holston, playing in his first game of the season, forced a fumble and recovered the ball to halt the Eagles’ threat.
Reid Wengerd scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns for the Mountain Lions, first on a 1-yard dive and then on a 2-yard run with less than two minutes left in the game. Henry Jones added his third point-after kick of the night to make it 21-7, Liberty Bell.
But Soap Lake wasn’t done. The Eagles promptly scored on a 62-yard pass on their first play after the Liberty Bell kickoff.
Liberty Bell pounced on an onside kick attempt by Soap Lake, and the clock ran out with the Mountain Lions securing the win.
Liberty Bell head coach Bob Bucsko was pleased with his team’s resiliency.
“Our team came to play. They practiced hard all week and were determined to play every quarter and never let down,” he said.
“The key word this week was ‘swarm,’” the coach continued. “That meant every player on defense was to get to the ball carrier, and that they did … We have some new players that became eligible to play which really helped us improve our ability to compete.”
Moriarty led the Liberty Bell running backs with 66 yards on 13 carries. Seth Stevie gained 60 yards on 17 carries, Holston picked up 39 yards on seven carries, Tanner White gained 26 yards on eight carries and Wengerd totaled 15 yards on eight carries. The Mountain Lions racked up more than 200 yards on the ground. White completed one pass in eight attempts for 29 yards, to Holston.
On defense, Magnus Treise was once again a force, with eight unassisted tackles. Holston also had eight unassisted tackles, and Stevie added seven. Brayden White grabbed an interception.
Liberty Bell travels to Bridgeport on Friday (Sept. 29), then will host Tonasket on Oct. 6.