It’s the playoffs, right? It’s not supposed to be easy.
But for Liberty Christian in the state 1B football playoffs, it sure looks easy.
The Patriots raced past Garfield Palouse 62-20 on Saturday evening at Edgar Brown Stadium to advance to the state 1B quarterfinals next weekend at the same site.
Even though this was LC’s second one-sided win over the Gar-Pal this year, Patriots coach Mike Olsen insisted the victory did not come as easily as it appeared.
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“I think it might’ve looked that way (easy) tonight,” Olsen said after the game. “But it wasn’t.”
Gar-Pal’s first drive lasted only four plays and ended when John Lesser recovered a fumble on the Vikings’ 45. Three plays later Lesser scored from the 15.
Gar-Pal’s next drive lasted nine plays before the Vikings turned the ball over on downs on the Patriots 30.
Two plays later, a 68-yard Lesser-to-Mitch Godwin pass and a 2-yard run by Godwin, Liberty Christian was up 16-0.
The game was really never in doubt after that.
Garfield-Palouse actually controlled the ball for much of the first half, running 43 plays to only 23 for the Patriots, but the Vikings could not contain LC’s explosive offense.
“In eight-man football you get some lopsided scores because the game is so wide open,” Olsen said. “If our good athletes get out there and start running around, the other team can get back on their heels.”
Even down 16-0 in the first quarter and reeling from the LC’s explosiveness, the Vikings weren’t quite ready to concede anything to the undefeated Patriots.
Quarterback Hunter Woltering finished off a 55-yard, 9-play drive with a 1-yard TD run to cut the LC lead in half with 8:29 left in the first half.
After Woltering’s touchdown run, the Patriots’ Cody Daniels recovered a Gar-Pal onside kick on the LC 42.
Lesser scored from there on the next play. The versatile Patriots quarterback broke a tackle at the line of scrimmage and stiffed-armed the last defender at the 10-yard line on his way to the end zone.
The Vikings answered with another long drive, 68 yards in 14 plays, capped by Cole Sanderson’s 5-yard run, to pull within 24-14 with 1:33 left in the half.
But another onside kick attempt — this one rolled out of bounds at the 50 — gave LC excellent field position again.
LC squeezed eight plays into that last 1:33, and Lesser scored from the 11 with 20.9 seconds left to put his team up 30-14 at intermission.
“They played us much tougher than last time,” Olsen said. “They were missing a couple of kids in the first game. But tonight they were very tough up front, and they threw the ball well.”
Liberty Christian scored on its first two possession of the second half.
Lesser scored from eight yards out with 9:03 left in the third period, at the end of a seven-play, 49 yard drive. Then Daniels scored from nine yards out to finish off an eight-play 43-yard drive at the 4:58 mark.
Gar-Pal’s final score came on the first play of the fourth quarter, a 29-yard pass from Woltering to Sanderson.
The Pats answered immediately with a 50-yard TD pass from Lesser to Godwin on the first play following another onside kick attempt by the Vikings.
Speedy freshman Rico Shupe closed the scoring for LC, on a 23-yard scoring run with 3:34 left in the game.
The game was another statistical gem for Lesser, who passed for 197 yards and ran for 182.
LC – Lesser 15 run (Daniels run)
LC – Godwin 2 run (Godwin run)
GP – Woltering 1 run (Neibergs (pass from Woltering)
LC – Lesser 58 run (run failed)
GP – Sanderson 5 run (pass failed)
LC – Lesser 1 run (Mote pass from Woltering)
LC – Lesser 8 run (Daniels run)
LC – Daniels 9 run (Daniels run)
GP – Sanderson 29 pass from Woltering (pass failed)
LC – Godwin 50 pass from Lesser (Daniels run)
LC – Nico Shupe 23 run (Mote run)
RUSHING — GP – Woltering 15-53, Sanderson 17-75, Knauff 26-102. LC – Godwin 2-9, Lesser 14-182, Shupe 2-25, Mote 3-14, Daniels 11-65.
PASSING — GP – Woltering 8-17-93. LC – Lesser 9-15-197.
RECEIVING — GP – Thurman 1-18, Sanderson 5-66, Knauff 1-9, Neibergs 1-0. LC – Godwin 7-180, MacHigh 1-7, Daniels 1-11.