Liberty scores 21 in five minutes to beat O’Dea

November 17, 2009

By Tim Pfarr

The Liberty defensive line seals the 38-35 victory over O’Dea by pushing back the ball carrier for no gain on fourth-and-four with 1:50 remaining and taking possession to run out the clock. By Greg Farrar

The Liberty defensive line seals the 38-35 victory over O’Dea by pushing back the ball carrier for no gain on fourth-and-four with 1:50 remaining and taking possession to run out the clock. By Greg Farrar

As Liberty trailed O’Dea 35-17 with less than 10 minutes remaining Nov. 13, it appeared as though the Patriots’ 3A state playoff run was coming to an end.

However, the Patriots didn’t give up, and after scoring three touchdowns within five minutes in the fourth quarter, they beat the Irish 38-35.

With the victory, Liberty advances to the quarterfinals and will be host team Nov. 20 at 7 p.m. against Lindbergh, of Renton. Both teams are 10-1 on the season. Lindbergh, the Seamount League champions, defeated Ferndale 52-21 in the first round.

Liberty began the game strong against O’Dea, taking a 17-7 lead with a 3-yard touchdown run from junior running back Chandler Jenkins, a 38-yard field goal kick from senior Dean Byron and a 10-yard touchdown from junior quarterback Trey Wheeler to junior wide receiver Jake Bainton.

However, midway through the second quarter, O’Dea took charge, not letting up until the fourth quarter. The Irish scored 28 unanswered points before the Patriots found success again.Liberty was also without Bainton — one of its biggest threats — in the second half, as the receiver sprained his ankle in the second quarter.

The Patriots fourth-quarter comeback began with a 16-yard touchdown pass from Wheeler to sophomore wide receiver Josh Gordon with 8:15 remaining in the game. Liberty recovered its following onside kick and scored again, this time on a 25-yard pass from Wheeler to senior wide receiver Peter Wiggum with 7:30 remaining. Liberty attempted a two-point conversion but failed, bringing the score to 35-31.

Liberty’s offense connected again on its next possession with another touchdown pass from Wheeler to Wiggum, this time with 3:49 remaining. The extra point brought the score to 38-35.

O’Dea began its next drive from its own 35-yard line and marched to Liberty’s 31 before Liberty forced O’Dea to fourth down and 4. O’Dea failed to convert, giving Liberty possession once more. Liberty took a knee, but was forced to punt with 17 seconds remaining. Liberty’s defense held O’Dea on its final play — a Hail Mary pass — bringing the game to a close.

“That was a pretty unbelievable turn of events there. Holy cow,” Liberty head coach Steve Valach said. “It was 35-17 and we just kept plugging away. The onside kick was huge, and then obviously the stop was huge.”

Wheeler said the win was surreal.

“O’Dea’s a heck of a football team, and I’ve got to give them a lot of respect,” Wheeler said. “We’re real lucky to win the game.”

Bainton said being sidelined for the second half didn’t keep his excitement from showing.

“I’m not going to lie. On the sideline, when we got that onside kick, oh my god, I was going crazy,” he said.

Valach said Bainton will likely play against Lindbergh.

Jenkins battled through injuries as well, rolling his ankle twice. However, he remained in the game.

“Right now, we’re a little dinged up, so we’re going to make sure to stay off our bodies, ice up, take it easy,” Jenkins said.

Lindbergh takes a seven-game winning streak into the quarterfinal. The Eagles’ last loss was to 3A KingCo Conference opponent Juanita 46-10.

Among Lindbergh’s top players are quarterback Matt Stuart, running backs Bakari Davis and Derek Herley and wide receiver Frank Lange. Herley scored four touchdowns against Ferndale. Lange had three touchdowns, including scores on an 80-yard kickoff return and on a 70-yard interception return.

Tim Pfarr: 392-6434, ext. 239, or Comment at

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