Lions lose to Liberty; host TDW this Friday
Goal line miscues costly; team hosts play-in
The St. Helens Lions missed out on their chance to finish third in the Northwest Oregon Conference football race on Friday, but the team can still make the state playoff bracket with a 'play-in' win at home this week.
St. Helens fell to Liberty 28-7, but it was a closer game than the score indicated.
The Lions missed out on a chance to get the first score of the game, and it seemed to flummox them the rest of the first half.
St. Helens had come close to scoring in the contest on their first possession. A 42-yard pass to Jesse Wright from Dallas Thompson got the team inside the Liberty 10. They punched the ball up to the nine, but then jumped offsides. Thompson snuck the ball to the six, and the Lions started to go for a field goal. Then Liberty jumped offsides and that put the ball on the one. The Lions went for it, but under the wet conditions fumbled it away.
'We couldn't finish the play. We were a little frustrated,' St. Helens coach John England said. 'That really hurt us.'
St. Helens would spar with Liberty much the rest of the way and had some other chances, but could manage just one score.
Liberty used their big back Brett Bafaro to punch in two short-yardage scores in the first half. They led 14-0 at the half. Liberty came out in the third quarter, scored once more and had a 21-0 lead.
Late in the third, St. Helens took over the ball on the Liberty 43, stopping them on a fourth-down attempt. Thompson then hit Jesse Wright for 16 yards to the Liberty 30. From there he found Dumitri Malnasi on a 30-yard pass for the score. Eldon Ralls kicked the extra point. Wright would finish the game with four catches for 71 yards, easily the most for the Lions receiving or rushing.
In the fourth quarter, St. Helens was three and out on their first two possessions. Liberty capitalized with a 50-yard run from Jonny Vaea and made it 28-7.
The Lions responded with a decent drive that included a 10-yard pass from Thompson to Wright and runs of 18, 8, and 5 by Thompson. Two sacks and two incomplete passes quelled the threat and the Lions never got their hands on the ball again.
'We've been pretty good with special teams this season, but we actually had one punt blocked and another player tackled in the backfield,' England said, noting one of their kickers was hurt.
St. Helens would finish the game with just 62 yards rushing. Thompson did complete 8 of 16 passes for 141 yards and the one score.
The loss left the Lions in fourth place in the NWOC, a definite improvement over last season, but not the third they would have gained with a win. St. Helens finished ranked 16th in the 5A classification, but fifth in the Northern Division for playoff games. They host The Dalles-Wahtonka this Friday.
The Dalles is 0-3 in their league and 1-7 on the season, last in the Columbia River Conference. They are ranked 31st in the OSAA rankings.
England says he likes the Lions chances, even though they lost a 'play-in' game to them last year.
'They lost their really good running back (to graduation) and they're not as good as last year. If we execute our plays well we should be able to handle them.' TDW has scored just 101 points in eight games and given up 392. The Lions have scored 279 and given up 267.
The Lions certainly aren't looking past TDW, but they do know that if they win they will probably be on the road. England said some prognosticators had looked at different scenarios and said that if all the favorites in the games being played Friday win, then the Lions may be at West Albany the following week. That's not certain and an upset or two certainly could change that. The next opponent won't be known for certain until Saturday, Nov. 5.
St. and #8200;Helens 0 0 7 0-7
Liberty 0 14 7 7-28
L-Brett Baforo 1 yard run (Sheldon Pittman kick)
L-Brett Bafaro 10 yard run (Kevin Lave kick)
L-Evan Eggiman 25 pass from Nathan Shelby (Lave kick)
SH-Dumitri Malnasi 30 yard pass from Dallas Thompson (Eldon Ralls kick)
L-Jonny Vaea 50 yard run (Lave kick)
Opponent: The Dalles-Wahtonka
Record: 0-3 league, 1-7 overall
Last game: Lost to Wilsonville, 24-7
Offense: Fly Sweep
'We need to block better, offensively control the line of scrimmage, and open some holes for Dumitri (Malnasi) and our other back. We need to get them in open space to make some runs.'
-John and #8200;England