LIBERTY CENTER — Liberty Center suffered for nine straight years losing to rival Patrick Henry.
The Tigers entered last night determined to put an end to the disappointment.
Liberty Center outlasted the Patriots for a 3-0 victory in a Northwest Ohio Athletic League contest dictated by the defenses.
That is, until the final moments of the game when the Tigers’ offense did just enough to move into field-goal range for sophomore kicker Kaleb Pohlman, who booted the game-winner from 20 yards away with 38 seconds left. Liberty Center improved to 4-0, 3-0 in the NWOAL. PH falls to 2-2, 2-1.
Pohlman, who had missed wide right on a 24-yard attempt late in the third quarter, knew his try in the closing minute was good as soon as it left his foot.
“I just tried to focus as much as I could and block out everything,” Pohlman said. “It felt good off my foot, like it was going in.”
Tigers running back Tony Bais, who rushed for 138 yards on 29 carries, felt confident Pohlman would make the final kick..
“I told him he’d better make it,” Bais said. “He missed the first one and I told him he needed to make this one.”
LC defensive back Josh Drain secured the victory with an interception of a last-second pass near midfield by PH’s Anderson Okuley.
On offense, Drain completed 6-of-13 passes for 97 yards. He said the win is a momentum-builder for the rest of the season.
“This means everything, and we looked forward to it coming in,” Drain said. “We did what we needed to do and got it done.”
PH coach Bill Inselmann credited the Tigers for pulling out the win in a hard-fought contest played before a packed crowd at Tiger Stadium.
“I didn’t think it would be this big of a defensive struggle,” Inselmann said. “It was a great defensive game. That was two very physical teams that played with a lot of passion tonight.
“It was 3-0. That means it was two very good defensive teams.”
Liberty Center coach Rex Lingruen was pleased to see the Tigers meet the challenge of putting an end to the losing against the Patriots.
“It was just a great football game, and I can’t say enough about our defense,” Lingruen said. “Casey Mohler, our defensive coordinator, he just put together a great package, and our kids played really good.”
Okuley completed 5-of-11 passes for 67 yards to lead PH’s offense.
Both offenses orchestrated at least one drive deep into the red zone before halftime only to come up empty.
The Patriots produced the first extended drive. They marched to the 10-yard line — covering 70 yards in 12 plays — only to see the drive end with halfback Calvin Palmer coming up inches shy of a first down on a fourth-and-one play with eight minutes left in the second quarter.
The Tigers took over possession, and Bais immediately led the Tigers into PH territory by ripping off a 54-yard run before he was tackled at the Patriots’ 26.
However, the drive stalled at the PH 22 when Bais was stopped on a fourth-and-one carry with just over five minutes left in the first half.
Contact Donald Emmons at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6302 or on Twitter @demmons.