With more than half of his varsity football career ahead of him, John Lesser has already mastered the art of the encore.
The same could be said for the rest of the sophomore running backs posse at defending 1B state champion Liberty Christian.
Lesser exploded for a pair of dazzling touchdown runs and senior quarterback Taylor Lindquist passed for a pair of scores as the second-ranked Patriots handled their stiffest test of the young season by beating fifth-ranked Touchet 26-8 in Southeast 1B League football Friday at Hanford High School.
Lesser scored on a 47-yard run for Liberty Christians first points and added a 66-yard TD to open the second half. Lesser, who scored the winning touchdown in the final breath of the 2012 state championship game, finished with 153 yards on 24 carries.
His title-game heroics last November appear have made Lesser hungry rather than complacent.
I guess what would top (the final play of 2012) would be another state title, said Lesser, who has rushed for 530 yards and 10 touchdowns this season. Whether I score or someone else scores, the only thing that matters is we bring another home.
Liberty Christian (3-0, 1-0 in league) outscored its first two opponents in 2013, 122-8. Those foes were 0-7 entering Friday nights action, and Touchet looking to atone for a 54-14 home loss to the Patriots last season represented a major upgrade in competition. LC head coach Mike Olson called the Indians (3-1, 0-1) one of the best teams Ive seen in this half of the state.
Fridays win gave Olson hope.
This tells me were going to have a pretty good chance to be in the postseason, he said. Maybe well get back to the Tacoma Dome.
Lessers 47-yard touchdown run late in the first quarter made it 6-0, Patriots, and Lindquist doubled the advantage by feathering a 21-yard TD pass to Cody Daniels with 29 seconds left in the half, the 6-foot-1 Daniels outmuscling 5-8 Touchet cornerback Edgar Rincon for the catch.
The Indians marshalled their most impressive drive of the game fresh after recess, as wily senior quarterback Elias Martinez slithered in and out of the pocket to complete 5 of 8 passes and march Touchet inside the LC 15.
But he was sacked on 4th-and-4 from the LC 14 by Tate Richards and Robbie Heimann, and Lesser exploded for his 66-yarder two plays later.
Touchet answered with its lone scoring drive, Martinez (10-of-22, 116 yards passing) hitting a diving Ruben Butler in the end zone for an 11-yard touchdown. But Lesser and Lindquist fueled a 12-play, 54-yard scoring drive in response. Lindquists 10-yard touchdown pass to Mitch Godwin on fourth-and-5 from the 10 was the second fourth-down conversion of the march and the dagger in a statement victory.
Lindquist was 11-of-23 for 180 yards.
Touchet 0 0 8 0 8
Lib. Christian 6 6 8 6 26
LC John Lesser 47 run (run failed)
LC Cody Daniels 21 pass from Taylor Lindquist (run failed)
LCLesser 66 run (Tate Richards pass from Lindquist)
TRuben Butler 11 pass from Elias Martinez (Edgar Rincon run)
LCMitch Godwin 10 pass from Lindquist
Rushing -- T: Colton Goble 10-42, Edgar Rincon 5-(-3), Colter McKeown 3-0, Elias Martinez 10-11, Ruben Butler 1-3; LC: John Lesser 24-153, Evon Branton 4-25, Taylor Lindquist 11-56.
Receiving -- T: Butler 4-26, E. Rincon 2-6, Goble 1-35, Carlos Rincon 1-21, McKeown 2-18; LC: Cody Daniels 6-106, Mitch Godwin 3-44, Connor Mote 1-16, Lesser 1-14.
Passing -- T: Martinez 10-of-22, 116 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT; LC: Lindquist 11-of-23, 180 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INT.