Wildcats stumble against Liberty

SNOQUALMIE - Mount Si met its match last week as the Liberty Patriots handed the Wildcat's their second loss of the season, 28-14.

SNOQUALMIE – Mount Si met its match last week as the Liberty Patriots handed the Wildcat’s their second loss of the season, 28-14.

In a game filled with penalties on both sides that had many fans wondering if the teams or the referees were controlling the ball, the Wildcats’ hopes of a post-season opportunity seemed to fade.

Mount Si came out in the first half looking tired and lackluster. The second half was much different, but a late hit after a Liberty interception left the status of Wildcat quarterback Rollin Smith in question for this week’s game with Newport. Early indications are that Smith has something wrong with his knee, but details were unknown at press time.

Liberty scored first in the contest, driving their opening kickoff and eventually scoring with 8:28 left in the first quarter to make it a 7-0 ball game.

Penalties plagued Mount Si on their first possession that eventually resulted in a Liberty interception of a Smith pass. The Patriots worked their way down to the Wildcat 17-yard line, but a penalty and the Mount Si defense forced a field goal. With 1:24 left in the first quarter, the score was 10-0 in the Patriots’ favor.

Liberty would get another shot before the half was over. Starting from their own 25-yard line with 3:14 left in the half, the Patriots pushed deep into Mount Si territory. A key play by Michael Ushler halted the Liberty drive, forcing them to go for another field goal. The kick was good and the Patriots held a 13-0 lead as both teams headed for the locker room.

Mount Si’s Erik Alexander took the opening kick of the second half deep into Liberty territory, but the run was called back due to a penalty. The Wildcats moved to midfield, but a fumble recovered by the Patriots halted the drive.

With 6:30 left in the third quarter, the Patriots broke one up the middle to the Wildcat 17. Four plays later they found the end zone again to make it 20-0 with 6:07 left in the third quarter.

Finally, midway through the third quarter, the Wildcats found their own drive to score. Starting from their own 44, Mount Si pushed into Liberty territory with runs by Brandon Yakaboski and Eric Forslin. Mount Si scored with 2:28 in the third, and with Gibson Bardsley’s extra point, the score was 20-7.

Two plays later, Alexander picked off a rare Patriot pass and rambled down to near the 15-yard line. Forslin then pushed to the 6-yard line, and, with 10:35 left in the game, Mount Si scored a second touchdown and extra point to make it a 20-14 game.

Unfortunately for Mount Si, the Patriots answered with another touchdown of their own. With a two-point conversion, the score was 28-14 with 8:51 left in the game.

The Wildcats started another drive and pushed deep into Liberty territory. A penalty pushed the Wildcats back to midfield and an interception by the Patriots halted the drive momentarily. Adding insult to injury was a late hit by a Patriot defender on the Wildcats’ Smith that knocked him out of the game with a knee injury. The hit resulted in a personal foul on the Patriots and turned the ball back over to Mount Si. But the momentum was gone despite the admirable job by backup Alexander. The Patriots eventually had the last possession and the Wildcats’ hopes of post-season play dwindled as the clock ticked down.

“These kids go hard and it’s a physical game,” said coach Charlie Kinnune about the injuries this season. “Liberty got real physical with us and we did some uncharacteristic things like turning the ball over and that led to scores for them.”

The Wildcats racked up more than 100 yards in penalties against Liberty and that was a key factor in the loss. “Timely penalties and timely turnovers were costly to us,” said Kinnune. “We needed to play with vigor and we lost our emotion in that first half.

“We had a really good third quarter scoring two quick ones. I thought the game momentum had changed in that third quarter but we let them score again,” he added.

Mount Si faces Newport this week at home and a bounce back from a heartbreaking loss is what Mount Si needs.

“A lot depends on who is healthy and who isn’t,” said Kinnune about his banged up players. “At quarterback we are looking into the depth chart and both Ian Atkinson and Kenny Morrison are available.”

Kickoff is 7:30 p.m., Friday, Oct. 28.