Late in the fourth quarter of Liberty Bell High School’s wild 52 – 47 Homecoming win over Soap Lake last Friday (Oct. 18), senior Mountain Lion defensive back Alex Whites was hobbling noticeably as the visiting Eagles drove toward the home team’s end zone. One of the game officials asked Whites if he was cramping up.
Yeah, Whites told the official, but he could tough it out for a few more minutes.
Whites did more than that, despite the cramps. With about 1:45 left on the clock and the Eagles aiming for a touchdown that would put them ahead, Whites stepped in front of a Soap Lake receiver and intercepted a pass from opposing quarterback Trevon Bently. That sealed the win for the Mountain Lions, who came from behind with a fourth-quarter flurry to earn their fourth win of the season.
“The entire team left it all on the field Friday night. Both teams fought hard but the Mountain Lions wanted it more in the end,” Liberty Bell head coach Jeff Lidey said after the game.
On offense, Liberty Bell survived four fumbles, including one that was converted into a Soap Lake touchdown, and two interceptions. The Mountain Lions made up for it with a productive ground game — more than 400 yards rushing — and a couple of recovered onside kicks that turned the tide late in the game.
The running trio of senior Magnus Treise (24 carries, 150 yards, two touchdowns), junior Bodie Paul (22 carries, 127 yards, two touchdowns) and freshman Riley Lidey (11 rushes, 114 yards, one touchdown) did the bulk of the damage for the Mountain Lions. Lidey added a touchdown on a double-reverse trick play that counted for 30 yards but saw Lidey covering about twice that much territory before striding into the end zone. Lidey was 3 – 9 passing for 39 yards.
Soap Lake started out fast with the first touchdown, then recovered the ensuing kickoff. Liberty Bell then took over on downs, but a fumble near the Eagles’ end zone killed their first scoring drive. The first quarter ended with a rather sedate score: Soap Lake 7, Liberty Bell 0.
At 9:45 of the second quarter, Lidey scored on a run, and Liberty Bell was successful with a two-point conversion, giving the Mountain Lions an 8 – 7 lead.
The Eagles quickly commenced a drive that put them on Liberty Bell’s 3-yard line, where the Mountain Lions recovered a Soap Lake fumble. However, on the next play, a pitch from Lidey to Treise went awry and a Soap Lake player fell on the skittering ball in the end zone for a touchdown, giving the Eagles a 14 – 8 lead.
A couple of minutes later, Soap Lake intercepted a Lidey pass and then scored on a 16-yard pass with about 2:30 left in the half, for a 21 – 8 lead.
In what would eventually prove to be a crucial drive, Liberty Bell moved the ball to Soap Lake’s 3-yard line. With 0.9 seconds on the clock, Paul scored on a run and Treise added a 2-point conversion, closing the gap to 21 – 16 at halftime.
The second half started with Soap Lake recovering its own kickoff, then immediately giving the ball back to the Mountain Lions via a fumble. A 25-yard scoring run by Treise gave Liberty Bell its second 1-point lead, 22 – 21, with 9 minutes left in the third quarter.
The Eagles quickly responded with a long touchdown run to reclaim the advantage, 27 – 22. Another long romp, this one 63 yards, extended the Eagles’ lead to 33 – 22.
Liberty Bell kept it close with a short touchdown run by sophomore Alex Tareski — whose stat sheet read 1 carry, 1 yard, 1 touchdown — and the third quarter ended with Soap Lake up 33 – 28.
In the fourth quarter, Soap Lake upped the ante with a touchdown pass and 2-point conversion to make it a 13-point margin, 41 – 28.
Then things got really interesting in a hurry.
Treise narrowed the gap with a 6-yard touchdown run, and Paul added a 2-point conversion. 41 – 36, Soap Lake.
The Eagles were hit with a personal foul call on the conversion, which added a 15-yard penalty that was assessed on the kickoff. Treise recovered the Mountain Lions’ onside kick at the Soap Lake 14-yard line, and he carried the ball in from the 7-yard line two plays later. Paul added two more extra points. Liberty Bell 44, Soap Lake 41.
It worked, so why not try it again? The Mountain Lions chipped another onside kick and — who else? — Treise again recovered. Lidey followed with his double-reverse scamper and — who else? — Paul ran in another 2-point conversion. Liberty Bell 52, Soap Lake 41.
All that happened in less than two minutes. The excitement wasn’t over. The Eagles scored on a short run with about 3 minutes left to make it 52 – 47, then recovered a Liberty Bell fumble with just under 2 minutes to go.
That’s when Whites made his key interception, and Liberty Bell ran out the clock. On defense for the evening, Treise had eight tackles and a sack, while junior Tyler Darwood had nine tackles.
The Mountain Lions’ season record now stands at 4 – 3. This Friday they will be at Bridgeport, which defeated Liberty Bell 32 – 20 in the opening game of the season. The regular season closes with the Mountain Lions hosting one of the most powerful 8-man teams in the state, Almira-Coulee-Hartline, on Nov. 2, kicking off at 7 p.m.