St. Helens has their chances but falls short in 20-14 loss

by: JEREMY DUECK - Tanner Long scored both of St. Helens touchdowns in Friday's game at Liberty. He had a 45-yard kickoff return here.
The St. Helens Lions got off to a good start Friday at Liberty, but couldn’t come up with quite enough offensive power for the win.

The Lions played Liberty straight up throughout the contest and it was a tight game early on. The Lions got within range late in the game, but didn’t get the score they needed.

Tanner Long would score both of the Lions’ touchdowns in the game. He carried 22 times on the night for 118 yards, and also had two pass receptions. Quarterback Gage Bumgardner also added to the Lions’ offense with 13 rushes for 53 years. He completed four of nine passes for 33 yards.

The Lions’ first score was set up when Devon Jewitt forced a fumble and recovered.

St. Helens led 7-0 at the end of the first quarter, but Liberty was driving. They scored early in the second quarter and the game was tied.

St. Helens fumbled the ball to Liberty and the Falcons went to a play-action pass. The Lions nearly had the quarterback sacked but lost containment and he connected for a touchdown. Liberty led 14-7. Liberty was able to stop St. Helens and drove down again for their final score.

Long would have a nice kickoff return late in the half, and another 15 yards was tacked on to take the ball to the Liberty 25. Unfortunately, Liberty picked off a pass and had a big runback, stopped only by the heroics of Brennan Norton at the Lions’ 25. They were able to keep the Falcons from scoring.

It was an even match-up most of the third. St. Helens got within range with about 10 minutes left when Long scored on a 28-yard run.

The Lions did get three PAT conversions from senior rookie Nathan Reed. He’s out for football for the first time, and running on the cross country team. He also kicked off three times, twice into the end zone for touchbacks.

The Lions gave it one more shot. Bumgardner had two nice runs, and Justin Helgerson had a 16-yard gain. Long broke free on a trap play and headed for the end zone, but it was called back with a penalty.

“It was one of those things,” Coach John England said. “We did not execute as well as we should have. We lost three fumbles and an interception. They also lost the ball. It was an evenly fought game, but a tough one to lose. We have to look internally to see what we need to do to come out next week and improve.”

No. 1 Sherwood up next

The Lions will have their hands full this Friday when top-ranked Sherwood, the defending 5A champion, comes to town.

“We have to focus on getting better and executing,” England said. “We have to give a better effort and not worry that they’re good. We’ll play our game and see what happens.”

England said Sherwood runs a Wing-T offense and likes to run the ball. They do so about 84 percent of the time.

Sherwood puts more linebackers in coverage against spread teams, but probably won't against St. Helens, which is more of a running team.

The Bowmen won the 5A state championship last year, and with three wins they are currently ranked first in the OSAA rankings. They are also first in every poll. They started the season with a 56-6 win over Milwaukie, and followed that with a 38-20 win over Marist, currently ranked third in most all polls. Last week, they escaped with a 35-28 win over Hermiston.


St. Helens 7 0 0 7—14

Liberty 0 20 0 0—20

SH—Tanner Long 12 yard run (Nathan Reed kick)

L—A.J. Antillon 27 yard run (Kevin Lave kick)

L—Aaron Holman 27 yard pass from Mike McBride (Lave kick)

L—Austin Mason 37 yard pass from McBride (kick failed)

SH—Long 28 yard run (Reed kick)

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