The Patriots lost in overtime to Bellevue last week. This week, they shut down the Islanders and held them to just 65 yards of offense.
Clearly, the Liberty High School football team was intent on getting back on track. And the Patriots got all they needed on the defensive side of the ball to do it.
Liberty of Issaquah, ranked No. 5 in Class 2A, turned out the lights on the offense of Mercer Island, ranked No. 8 in Class 3A, with a crushing 27-0 victory Friday night in a KingCo 2A/3A game at Mercer Island High School.
Liberty (6-2, 4-1 KingCo) bounced back after a hard-to-swallow 23-20 loss in overtime to Bellevue last week. Quarterback Sam Brown ran for two touchdowns and running back/linebacker Jacob Thoresen played well on both sides of the ball, rushing for 100 yards on 12 carries.
“That was great to come out and play the way we did last week, but we kind of had to put it in the past afterward,” said Thoresen, who helped the Pats in holding Mercer Island to 65 yards of total offense and just 17 yards rushing. “We hadn’t arrived yet, so that was the mentality going into this week. We knew they were going to be a tough battle, so we came out and punched them in the mouth.
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“It was a great win. We wanted last week’s game bad, but we know something’s bigger ahead. That wasn’t going to define our season.”
The Patriots hiked their lead to 14-0 as Jake Wright waltzed into the end zone for a 5-yard TD run at the 8:25 mark of the second quarter. The score was made possible when Sam Brown fired a 43-yard completion deep to Thoresen.
Wright’s 41-yard punt return to the Islanders 9-yard line led to a 1-yard quarterback sneak from Brown to give Liberty a 21-0 lead with 3:19 left before halftime.
“The mentality was just fight for home,” said Wright, who left the game in the third quarter with a right ankle injury. “We wanted to get another home game. We put it all out on the line tonight and played good football. We gained a lot of confidence from last week’s game against Bellevue. If we can defend one of the top teams in the state, we can defend anybody.”
The Patriots likely will host a District 1-2 loser-out, playoff game against a to-be-determined opponent next Friday.
“It’s always important to be in the present,” Liberty coach Steve Valach said. “You have to have a yesterday funeral and move forward, but there was a lot to be gained, in terms of belief and confidence in what we do, by last week’s performance.”
MI (6-2, 2-2) struggled on offense in the first half as the Pats’ defense limited them to minus-1 yard of total offense, including minus-2 yards on the ground.
The Islanders close out the regular season schedule at home against powerhouse Bellevue next Friday.