Liberty narrowly defeats Hazen in football showdown

September 10, 2012

By Christina Corrales-Toy

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By Scott Coburn
The captains for Liberty and Hazen meet at midfield for the opening coin toss in the Sept. 7 contest between the two Renton schools. Liberty defeated Hazen 25-22.

NEW — 5:55 p.m. Sept. 10, 2012

It was the battle of Renton last Friday as the Liberty Patriots hosted the Hazen Highlanders in a high school football contest.

It was the second game of the season for both teams. The Highlanders came into the game with a thrilling come-from-behind victory against Franklin Pierce under their belt, while the Patriots suffered their first loss at the hands of a talented Eastside Catholic team on Aug. 31.

But it was Liberty who came away with the win as the two teams clashed on Sept. 7. The Patriots defeated Hazen by a score of 25-22.

It was a close game for the majority of the night.

Liberty put the first points on the scoreboard when wide receiver Tynan Gilmore rushed for a 29-yard touchdown in the first quarter.

The Patriots added another touchdown in the second quarter when Scott Dean caught a 53-yard pass from quarterback Robbie Thomas.

Hazen responded with a 55-yard rushing touchdown from Marquise Lee and the teams went into halftime with Liberty leading 13-7.

After the third quarter Liberty appeared to be cruising, leading Hazen 25-7, thanks to two touchdown passes from Thomas to Gilmore.

But the Highlanders fought back in the fourth quarter, and put up 15 points on the board.  Hazen’s Mason Jacobs scored a 40-yard touchdown when he intercepted the ball from Liberty’s quarterback. Tony Nipert threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Isaiah Davis for the second score.

Still, the comeback fell short for the Highlanders, who have a habit of starting a game slow and finishing strong.

“We’re a finishing team, not a starting team,” said Hazen coach Drew Oliver. “So, we’ve got to find a way to figure that out, because it continues to haunt us game after game. Sometimes we’re able to overcome that but against good teams like that it’s tough. They’re a good team, but I think we’re a good team too.”

Liberty’s Gilmore had a huge game, scoring three touchdowns and leading the defense with seven solo tackles.

Liberty coach Steve Valach said he was impressed with Gilmore’s play on both sides of the ball.

“He’s such a dynamic player,” Valach said. “He’s a smart football player. He’s one of those guys that you don’t really know how fast he is, but he just makes people miss. He caught the ball well and he had some great tackles.”

As the game came to a close, chants of “We own Renton” could be heard echoing from the stands of the Liberty student section.

“I’m proud of our guys, they battled,” Valach said of Liberty’s performance. “Hazen is a good football team, and we knew that after watching film. They’re a big, tough, physical team and they move the ball really well.”

Oliver said he was happy with Hazen’s effort, but added that his team was disappointed by the close loss.

“I’m very proud of my team as far as effort is concerned,” he said. “I’m not happy on the scoreboard and the team isn’t either. I told those guys that we are past moral victories in our program and three years ago that would have been a moral victory for us. But they fought, they continued to fight and I’m proud of them for that.”

Up next both Hazen and Liberty will begin league play on Sept. 14. Liberty hosts Interlake at 7 p.m. and Hazen takes on Highline at Highline Memorial Stadium at 8 p.m.

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