Liberty head coach Mike Dewey told his team prior to the Lancers’ State 2B semifinal against Asotin that an unlikely hero would emerge.
The Lancers found it in multiple forms when senior quarterback Garrett Rogers connected with junior tight end James Heer for a 36-yard touchdown pass to put Liberty up 20-13 with 6 minutes, 53 seconds left in the game at Gonzaga Prep.
The Lancers’ defense held strong, forced a turnover on downs and ran the clock out to prevail over the Panthers and earn a bid into the state title game for the first time since 1992.
“In these big games, someone who usually doesn’t get their names in the headlines is going to have to step up,” said Dewey, whose Lancers beat Asotin for the second time after edging the Panthers 22-20 in triple overtime in the regular season.
Early on, it was Lancers running back Tyler Haas that made the biggest impact. The senior rushed for 169 yards on 22 carries. In the second half, Asotin was more aggressive with its run defense and limited Haas to 93 yards on 22 carries, and forced Rogers to make throws.
The senior signal caller answered the call.
“He came through in the clutch and that’s just the kind of kid he is,” Dewey said. “He makes plays in big moments when we need him to make them.”
Rogers’ first big moment came in the first half when he connected with Josh Larsen-Nowland over the middle for a 22-yard score. That came after Josh Dilling put the Panthers on the board first with a 10-yard touchdown.
Liberty entered halftime leading 12-7 after Garrett Rogers concluded a 61-yard with a 1 yard touchdown run on a QB sneak. The Lancers failed to convert both two-point conversions in the first half.
Asotin claimed a one-point lead with 10:36 remaining in the second half when quarterback Blake Magnuson connected with Chase Klappenbach for a 16-yard TD.
That’s where Rogers came in and stole the show, something that caught Asotin head coach Jim Holman off guard.
“To be quite honest with you, I didn’t think (Rogers) could beat us. I wasn’t really worried about him throwing the ball” he said. “He made two great throws to beat us, and you just got to tip your cap.”
Liberty will face Napavine in the state title game. Napavine defeated the Lancers 34-7 in the quarterfinals last season.
Odessa-Harrington 42, Sunnyside Christian 40: Gavin Elder ran the ball 22 times for 140 yards and three touchdowns to help the Titans to a 42-40 semifinal victory over Sunnyside Christian in the State 1B playoffs at Lions Field in Moses Lake.
Sage Elder added 231 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries for the Titans (12-0). Justin Faber threw for four touchdowns for Sunnyside Christian.
Colton Hunt’s fourth-quarter, 13-yard touchdown pass to John DeWulf put the Titans up for good.
In the last minute of regulation, Sunnyside Christian had the ball on the 2-yard line on a fourth-and-1 play, only to have Odessa-Harrington shut it down and force a turnover on downs.
The Titans ran the ball on four straight plays, forcing a fourth-and-1 with 11 second left, but got the first down to preserve the win.
Odessa-Harrington advances to the State 1B championship match against Neah Bay at the Tacoma Dome on Saturday.
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