Liberty Patriots pounce on Sammamish Totems, 54-7

September 20, 2011

By Christina Lords

Josh Gordon, Liberty senior wide receiver, hauls in a first-quarter pass for 44 yards and a first-and-goal from the Sammamish six-yard line. Junior running back Casey Smith scored for a 21-0 lead on the drive. By Greg Farrar

The Liberty High School Patriots rallied from a sluggish 0-2 start to the season in a big way Sept. 16, winning their first home football game of the season, 54-7, against the visiting Sammamish Totems.

It was also Liberty’s first KingCo Conference 3A/2A game of the season.

After back-to-back losses to district rivals Skyline and Issaquah, both ranked among the state’s top 4A teams, Liberty was ready to break loose against Sammamish.

It did not take the Patriots long to assert themselves against the Totems.

With 8:52 left on the clock in the first quarter, senior running back Hamilton Noel ran in an 8-yard touchdown on Liberty’s first possession.

Noel would go on to score two more touchdowns for the Patriots and intercept a pass from Totem senior quarterback Austin Lee in the contest.

“This week, we’ve been really focused on the team,” Noel said. “We dropped our first two games, so this was the start of league play and we really wanted to start off well. Everybody came really focused and played hard.”

Liberty ran and passed the football with precision. Liberty senior quarterback Jordan West was able to set the tone offensively in the air for the Patriots. At half time, he had completed 14 for 20 passes for 278 yards.

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The Patriots rolled to a 21-0 first-quarter lead. After Noel scored two touchdowns, West handed off the ball to junior running back Casey Smith, who went in for a 2-yard touchdown run with 1:38 remaining in the first quarter.

West connected with senior wide receiver Connor Hudson in the end zone for a 9-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter.

After a Liberty punt that put Sammamish in poor field position at the 4-yard line, junior defensive back Anthony Olobia came up with a safety for the Patriots, bringing the total to 30-0.

Junior wide receiver Tynan Gilmore caught a 49-yard pass from West with 52.7 seconds left to go in the first half.

Josh Johnson also added a 25-yard field goal as Liberty led 40-0 at halftime.

Sammamish had no way to stop Liberty’s pulverizing running attack.

“Anytime you’re running the ball well means you’re getting a good push up front,” Liberty coach Steve Valach said. “Our linemen deserve some credit tonight, and played very well.”

Valach pointed to offensive linemen Jalen Robinson, Kevin Ahrens, Anthony Olobia and Tyler Anton as major contributors to the Patriots’ first win of the season.

Sammamish’s lone touchdown was a 76-yard run from Lee with 49.9 seconds remaining in the third quarter. Until that point, Liberty had allowed the Totems only one other first down on the night.

“We have a good defensive front, and I thought they dominated tonight,” Valach said. “Success breeds success … and hopefully we can build on that.”

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