It was a pitch freshman John Lesser and Liberty Christian will never forget.
The top-ranked Patriots (14-0) put their season on the line and pitched the ball to Lesser who leaped in for the winning score as time expired.
The touchdown gave the Patriots their first Class 1B state championship after defeating second-ranked defending champion Neah Bay, 34-28, on Saturday at the Tacoma Dome.
“(Lesser) is an incredible freshman,” said quarterback Mike Olson. “I was just happy we could pull through and that was a great run by him.”
The win gave Liberty Christian coach Mike Olson, the QB’s father, his first state title as a head coach. This is his sixth season piloting the Patriots.
“It’s kind of a lifelong thing for me,” said the coach. “I’ve been coaching for 37 years and it feels great to win one as a head coach. Words cannot describe it. It’s just awesome.”
Neah Bay tied the game on a 65-yard touchdown run by quarterback Josiah Greene and a two-point conversion run by Cody Cummins. The versatile Green completed 6 of 15 passes for 131 yards, rushed for 197 yards on 19 carries and scored two touchdowns.
But Olson spearheaded the Patriots’ final drive, leading Liberty Christian to Neah Bay’s 12. Olson, flushed from the pocket on third down, ran 7 yards for the first down.
“We always make fun of Mike because he’s a bigger guy but when he needs to run, he can run,” Lesser said
Then coach Olson called a timeout with two seconds remaining and decided to run a pitch to little-used running back Lesser to win the game.
“I wasn’t even a running back to start,” said Lesser. “But it was a great honor to be called on. I’m just glad I could win this as a freshman.”Kevin Manning: 235-597-8665 @ManningKT