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Lions lose a heartbreaker to Liberty

Two fourth quarter touchdowns help the Falcons to the win


by: JOHN WILLIAM HOWARD - Lions' senior quarterback Gage Bumgargner (14) is wrapped up by the Liberty defense in the first quarter of St. Helens' 34-33 loss on Friday night. Bumgardner had more than 100 yards on the ground and in the air respectively, and finished with two touchdowns of each variety. Yet again, the Lions were left empty handed. This time, it was by an even more heartbreaking margin, as St. Helens gave up a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter and gave up a 12 point lead to fall 34-33 at the hands of the Liberty Falcons on Friday night.

The loss came in spite of a huge game from senior quarterback Gage Bumgardner, who threw for 107 yards and two touchdowns, and ran for 105 five yards and a pair of scores on the ground, one of which was a dash down the sideline for 63 yards. Bumgardner also intercepted a pass in the end zone.

The Lions dug themselves a hole early in the game. Koby Alverado snuck in from 15 yards out late in the first quarter, and midway through the second Liberty struck again. Bumgardner ran one yard for his first score with just over two minutes remaining in the half to put the Lions on the board, but they trailed 14-6 at halftime.

St. Helens made it interesting in the second half. Just a minute in, Bumgardner broke away and thanks to a few vicious blocks downfield, scored from 63 yards out on just the third play of the third quarter. The two point conversion failed, leaving St. Helens down two. Liberty responded with a touchdown of their own to lead 21-12 midway through the third.

On the ensuing kickoff, Norton returned the ball 33 yards to the Lions' 48 yard line. A few plays later, Bumgardner found Norton for a 13 yard reception, again pulling St. Helens within two points. On Liberty's first series, the Falcons fumbled the long snap to the punter, and St. Helens senior Corey West jumped on the ball, giving the Lions possession inside the three yard line. The Lions took their first lead When Norton powered in from three yards out, and after Tanner Long made a diving two point conversion, the Lions led 27-21, but not for long.

St. Helens attempted an onside kick, which was recovered by Liberty at midfield, but the Falcons fumbled on their first play, giving the Lions the ball back. A gutsy fourth down conversion and a pass to Justin Helgerson later, and the Lions found themselves up 33-12 seconds in to the fourth quarter.

That was too much time for Liberty to work with. The Falcons scored less than two minutes later on a TD reception by Austin Mason, and after forcing St. Helens into a three and out, scored the go ahead touchdown with just 3:41 to play on a one yard run from Matthew Langbehn.

The Lions stopped the two point conversion try, and had two chances to score, but Bumgardner's desperation pass with less than 20 seconds left was bobbled and intercepted, and the Falcons slipped away with the victory.

Head coach Jared Phillips called his team out in the huddle after the loss, challenging them to rise to the occasion and decide how to react to such a tough defeat.

“You have to choose a path,” he said.

Senior lineman Jacob Zartman, who tweeted after the game about his frustration at missing a pair of extra points, said he has to move on and focus on what's next.

“I just think we live with no rear view mirrors,” said Zartman. “We put it behind us, go to practice, forget about it and think about Sherwood next week.”