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Football: Liberty pounces on St. Helens, drops Lions 46-13

Phillips: "These guys have invested a lot of time, and invested a lot of effort and energy, so it does hurt,"


Photo Credit: JOHN WILLIAM HOWARD - Sophomore linebacker Garrett Kust flys in for one of his team-high 10 tackles on Friday night, hoping to drag down Liberty's Nicholas Bonat midway through the second half.A week after falling in their home opener to Parkrose, the St. Helens Lions are continuing to search for answers after being flattened by Liberty in the second week of the young season.

The Falcons got on the board early, scoring after just three minutes of play from six yards out on a touchdown reception from quarterback Blake Walker to junior receiver Jacob Mast. Liberty forced St. Helens to turn the ball over on downs, and a few minutes later, the Falcons capitalized again: A 2-yard scamper from Nicholas Bonat halfway through the first to put the home team up 14-0.

They'd knock in another before halftime, Walker's second passing score of the night to Mast, as well as scoring a two point conversion to give themselves a 22-0 lead at the break.

The second half started off a disaster for the St. Helens Lions. Looking to gain some momentum and claw their way back into the game, St. Helens attempted an onside kick, but lost the ball to Liberty at the Falcon 48 yard line. Backup quarterback Koby Alvarado stood in for a few plays in the third quarter, and made St. Helens pay every time he touched the ball. The first play was a 12-yard dash to the Lion 40 yard line. The second saw Alvarado dip and duck, cutting back across the 10-yard line and punching in the Falcons' fourth touchdown of the night.

On the following series, after a huge kickoff return by sophomore Haidon Allen to the Lion 47 yard-line, St. Helens finally broke through and got on the board. Sophomore quarterback Levi Norton and fellow sophomore running back Myles Terry traded 3-yard runs before Terry was stuffed on third down, setting up an all-important fourth-and-two. Instead of punting the ball, Norton dropped back to pass, and found just enough room to sneak the ball through the Liberty defense and hit Allen in the center of the field. A block from Bryce Bumgardner and a few nifty moves from Allen, and it was a footrace to the end zone for St. Helens' first touchdown of the night.

For Allen, who has now scored a touchdown in both games this season, it was a bit of a blur behind the young patchwork offensive line, who struggled to open up seams for the St. Helens running backs, but came up with a gap just big enough for the shifty, 140-pound sophomore to scoot through.

“I just saw all blocking and the line, they did it all,” Allen said. “That was a perfect play from the line. Perfect hole, we did good.”

All the momentum, though, was for naught as Alvarado stepped back on the field for his second consecutive series. Facing a third and 15 with the Lions smelling a rare three-and-out, Alvarado dashed up the sideline for 20 yards to put the Falcons in Lion territory at the 46 yard line. St. Helens slowed him once on first down, but couldn't repeat the act, giving up a 46 yard touchdown run to Alvarado's speedy feet. A scored two-point conversion made it 37-6 with just under seven minutes to play in the third quarter.

Photo Credit: JOHN WILLIAM HOWARD - Sophomore Matt Anderson had just one reception on Friday evening, but it was a good one, picking up 34 yards on the play.Liberty would score again — this time a 43-yard passing touchdown from Walker to Byron Greenlee after an incredible leaping catch — before St. Helens scratched the scoreboard again.

The Lions' final touchdown came with just seconds remaining in the third period. St. Helens had battled their way from their own 35 yard line across midfield and onto the Falcon's defensive half, utilizing the power running of Norton and fellow sophomore Tyler Rea, before an offsides penalty gave the Lions a first down on the Falcon 39 yard-line.

With all the work on the ground, Liberty seemed to have forgotten about Bumgarder, who took advantage of a hole in the secondary and a cheating safety to break free and run for 39 yards to the house.

The score was Bumgardner's first of the season after a breakout season in 2013 and months of intensive offseason training. Getting back in the end zone, he said, made all the work worth it.

“Best feeling in the world, and right after that you're just, you just have a feeling of, 'I got this,' like this game is going to go well,” Bumgardner said, pausing to pound a fist to his chest as he recalled the touchdown reception.

While it was a drop from his 10 catches in the opener with Parkrose, Bumgarder still managed to lead the team in receiving yards and catches. His performance week in and week out, incombination with his work in the offseason months, are all part of a major dream to play college football, according to head coach Jared Phillips.

Bumgardner's high standard for himself bleeds over into his view of the team around him, and after the loss to Liberty, Bumgardner called for improved preparation for games, including during the season, but in the winter, spring and summer as well. It's about getting to college, yes, but breaking the losing streak has become a high priority.

“It's always going to hurt. Any loss is going to hurt. Any win's going to feel good, but it's definitely the losses that are going to hit you hard,” he said. “If it doesn't hurt, then the game — I don't know that you should be in it. If it doesn't hurt, then it doesn't mean that much to you.”

Allen showed his frustration as well after watching the Falcons sneak through the secondary and score on three plays of over 40 yards: Two on the ground from Avarado, and a touchdown pass from Walker to Greenlee.

“I think we need more physicality,” said Allen, who plays linebacker on defense. “We're not playing as tough as we can. We need to be more tough, man up and play harder. Just physicality. We're playing too soft right now.”

Phillips, who asked the team to let the pain sink in on the quiet bus ride home and use it as a motivator, said he didn't doubt the team's commitment.

Photo Credit: JOHN WILLIAM HOWARD - St. Helens head coach Jared Phillips looks on as the Lions struggle to keep up down the stretch during Friday's loss at Liberty. Phillips never once questioned the heart and committment of his team, saying they would simply get back to work preparing for Wilsonville on Monday.“These guys have invested a lot of time, and invested a lot of effort and energy, so it does hurt,” he said. “I don't question that at all about these guys, that something like that hurts.”

After attempting 42 passes in the opening loss to Parkrose, Norton attempted just 18, competing 8 for 130 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Allen led the Lions on the ground, rushing for 58 yards on 4 carries with one touchdown. Sophomores Tyler Rea and Myles Terry each had nine carries, but neither managed to gain much ground. Rea's 8-yarder was the longest of the night for the power back, and Terry didn't manage anything longer than a three-yard gain.

The kick return game was a major bright spot for St. Helens. Allen, Rea, Bumgardner and Terry each had a return around 20 yards, with Terry breaking off an additional 14-yard punt return. Allen finished with 91 all-purpose yards to lead St. Helens.

Defensively, it was a coming out party for sophomore linebacker Garrett Kust, who led the team with 10 tackles

The Lions will head to Wilsonville next week to face a Wildcat team that has, inexplicably, gone 0-2 to start their season after falling to Mountain View in the opener, and dropping a 7-6 overtime game to Sandy in the first league game of the year.

Photo Credit: JOHN WILLIAM HOWARD - Sophomore running back Myles Terry fights for yardage in the first quarter of the Lions' week two loss on the road at Liberty High School.

SUMMARY

Liberty 46, St. Helens 13

STHE 0 0 13 0 — 13

LIBE 14 8 21 3 — 46

Scoring:

1st Quarter

LIBE — Jacob Mast 6 pass from Blake Walker (Christopher Schramm kick) 9:03

LIBE — Nicholas Bonat 2 run (C. Schramm kick) 5:41

2nd Quarter

LIBE — J. Mast 11 pass from B. Walker (Alex Batke from Koby Alvarado) 8:11

3rd Quarter

LIBE — K. Alvarado 40 run (C. Schramm kick) 11:24

STHE — Haidon Allen 44 run (Jacob Hawkins kick missed) 9:22

LIBE — K. Alvarado 46 run (Jacob Dolson run) 6:52

LIBE — Byron Greenlee 43 pass from B. Walker (C. Schramm kick) 3:01

STHE — Bryce Bumgardner 39 pass from Levi Norton (J. Hawkins kick) 0:46

4th Quarter

LIBE — Schramm 35 Field goal, 2:12

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