Liberty needs triple OT to beat Lindbergh
November 24, 2009
By Tim Pfarr
In a back-and-forth defensive battle that took three overtimes to settle Nov. 20, the Liberty High School Patriots defeated the visiting Lindbergh Eagles 20-17 in the Class 3A quarterfinals.The Patriots now head to the Tacoma Dome Nov. 27 to take on the unbeaten Lakes Lancers at 1 p.m. in the state semifinals.
“The goal is to just keep winning and just keep on going,” Liberty junior quarterback Trey Wheeler said after the victory against Lindbergh.
However, the match against Lindbergh was one that nearly ended Liberty’s season.
Liberty positioned itself to strike first, when an interception by senior defensive back Marcell Bell gave the Patriots the ball at the Eagles’ 7-yard line with just less than three minutes remaining in the first quarter. Liberty running back Chandler Jenkins, a junior, ran for a touchdown on the next play.
In the second quarter, Dean Byron missed a 37-yard field goal attempt with seven minutes remaining, but a fumble recovery at the Lindbergh 25-yard line set the Patriots up for another Jenkins touchdown run just moments later.
Lindbergh struck back with a 32-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Frank Cange with 1:21 remaining in the second quarter, closing Liberty’s lead to 14-7.
In the third quarter, defensive back Devin Bennett, a junior, robbed Lindbergh of a touchdown by intercepting a pass in the end zone. However, with 1:05 remaining in the third quarter, Lindbergh running back Bakari Davis broke a 77-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 14.
The fourth quarter was dominated by defense, but Lindbergh managed to drive deep into Liberty territory with less than four minutes remaining. Liberty made the stop at the 4-yard line, and Lindbergh kicker Derrick Holt missed the field goal attempt, leaving the game tied.
The closing minutes of regulation were scoreless, sending the game to overtime. In the high school football overtime, the clock is deactivated and each team begins a drive from the 25-yard line. If a game reaches a third overtime, each team begins a drive from the 10-yard line.
Lindbergh’s offense took the field first, but an interception by Jenkins ended the drive on its first play.
Liberty needed just a field goal to win, but a lost fumble sent the game to a second overtime.
Liberty’s offense took the field first in the second overtime and drove to the 19-yard line before being stopped. Byron missed the field goal attempt, and Lindbergh’s offense took the field with an opportunity to win.
Just as it looked as though Lindbergh was close to scoring, Bennett made another clutch interception, sending the game to a third overtime.
Lindbergh’s offense took the field first in the third overtime, and although Liberty’s defense prevented a touchdown, it could not stop Holt from kicking a field goal to give Lindbergh the lead, 17-14.
On Liberty’s drive, Wheeler threw a high pass to wide receiver Jake Bainton, a junior, in the end zone. Bainton leapt into the air and came down with the ball, giving Liberty the 20-17 win.
“Trey had the placement. It was perfect placement,” Bainton said. “I just caught it.”
Wheeler said Bainton ran a great route on the final play.
“I saw they were blitzing, so I had to get it off quickly,” Wheeler said. “I just put it up where he could catch it and another guy couldn’t, and we got fortunate enough that he caught it.”
Liberty head coach Steve Valach gave much credit to his team’s defensive efforts.
“Our defense played great. Defense was the difference today obviously,” Valach said.
He gave much credit to Lindbergh’s defense as well.
“We really weren’t in a rhythm all night. A lot of that is because of their defense,” he said. “A good defense will do that. A good defense will get you out of rhythm.”
Liberty faces its biggest challenge of the season in the semifinals. Lakes has shut out its postseason opponents 135-0.
The Lancers, who often use the Wildcat formation, have an explosive running game that has averaged nearly 300 yards per game in the post-season.
The winner of the Liberty-Lakes game advances to the championship game Dec. 4 to face either Bellevue or Union.
Liberty (10-2) vs. Lakes (12-0)
Class 3A State Semifinals
1 p.m. in Tacoma Dome
Key Lakes statistics and players: Lakes has outscored opponents 134-0 in the post-season playoffs. Lancers feature an explosive running game out of their Wildcat formation. Lakes has averaged more than 300 yards per game rushing in the playoffs. Key players include running back Teddy Cotton, full back-quarterback Jordan Rivera, quarterback Cedric Dixon, running back Willis Dixon, defensive line Sione Potoa’e, defensive back-wide receiver Jamaal Kearse and linebacker Darius Waters. Potoa’e has made a verbal commitment to the University of Washington, and has been selected for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in January. He was ejected for a personal foul in last week’s 24-0 victory against Mount Spokane and may not play against Liberty.
Key Liberty statistics and players: Liberty has won some thrillers in the playoffs, including that last two games (38-35 against O’Dea, 20-17 against Lindbergh). According to Seattle Times’ statistics, the Patriots’ offense has ground out 2,255 yards this season. Running back Chandler Jenkins is an all-around threat, with more than 2,000 all-purpose yards this season. He leads the Patriots in rushing with 1,115 yards, has caught 39 passes for 512 yards, and scored 20 touchdowns. He also returns kickoffs and punts. Wide receiver Jake Bainton leads the Patriots in receiving with 45 catches for 722 yards. He also handles the punting chores, averaging 38.9 per attempt. Quarterback Trey Wheeler has thrown for 1,508 yards and 23 touchdowns. Among Liberty’s defensive standouts have been linebacker Troy Solly, linebacker Cameron Talley, defensive tackle Dan Eck, defensive back Devin Bennett and linebacker Alex Kaser.
Tim Pfarr: 392-6434, ext. 239, or email@example.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.