Liberty v. CVC football

Photo by Tony Kukulich

Liberty eked out a 28-27 overtime victory over Clayton Valley Charter in the Honor Bowl in Union City, Calif., Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019. The Lions blocked a point after touchdown kick to secure the victory.

Brentwood’s reigning state champion Liberty High School football team is developing a knack for keeping fans on the edge of their seats this season. That may not always be stress-free for fans, but no one’s complaining: Liberty is 3-0.

A week after the Lions’ defense held off Oakdale with a late stand to pull out a 19-14 win, Liberty blocked Clayton Valley’s point after touchdown (PAT) attempt in overtime, to pull off a 28-27 win in the Honor Bowl at James Logan High School in Union City.

“The boys fought and it was crazy,” said Liberty head coach Ryan Partridge. “We knew it was going to be a dog fight. We absolutely knew it.”

Clayton Valley quarterback Jake Kern’s 2-yard keeper brought the Ugly Eagles (1-1) within a point in overtime, but the PAT was deflected by the Lions as it rose toward the uprights, eliciting a wild celebration on the Liberty sideline.

“I just had a feeling it was going to end up like this,” Partridge said. “Not overtime, and the new rule and a special-teams win, but that was such a good football team we played, and we are pretty lucky to come out winners.”

Liberty running back Darrion Bartley’s 26 carries for 110 yards sustained the Lions, scoring three of four Liberty touchdowns (a 1-yard run, a 5-yard catch and a 35-yard punt return).

But the Lions had to stave off the feisty Ugly Eagles, who bounced back from a 21-7 halftime deficit to tie the game on Makhi Gervais’ 82-yard catch and run, with 1:41 left in regulation.

Bartley, however, continued to shine in overtime, rushing the ball three of four plays in the Lions’ only post-regulation series, launching himself one yard over the top of the offensive line on his third overtime carry, pushing the Lions ahead 28-21.

“You have to step up in some situations, but I really thank my line,” Bartley said. “They got me some open holes, and I just hit them.”

Bartley jumpstarted the Lions with a 35-yard punt return midway through the first quarter to put the Lions up 7-0. But Gervais, who finished with 44 carries for 194 yards, answered with a 28-yard run about three minutes later, evening the score for Clayton Valley.

Brenden Bell’s 1-yard run early in the second put the Lions up 14-7, and Bartley’s toe-tap 5-yard catch in the end zone, right before halftime, increased the lead to 21-7.

“It was a crazy win; a great win for us,” said Liberty quarterback Jay Butterfield, who finished 16 for 31, with 128 yards and a touchdown. “We came out and battled, and came out with the W.”

Clayton Valley’s Kern had a nice game in the loss, completing nine of 15 passes for 130 yards and a touchdown. He also added a pair of 2-yard scores on the ground that pulled Clayton Valley to within 21-14 and later brought the Ugly Eagles within a point.

Liberty returns to the field at 7 p.m., Sept. 13, against Monte Vista at its substitute home field of Heritage High School. Clayton Valley hosts Overfelt High (San Jose) at home at the same time.

In other action

James Logan 48, Heritage 7

The James Logan football team roughed up Heritage, 48-7, in the game that preceded Liberty’s, at the Honor Bowl at James Logan High School in Union City.

Colts senior running back Chase Sims racked up 23 carries for 186 yards and five touchdowns, and wide receiver JaMon Taylor and quarterback Shamoun V. Duncan-Niusulu also scored for the Colts.

Heritage’s lone score came on Hanai Muhammad’s 1-yard run late in the first half to pull the Patriots to within 28-7. “The boys’ effort and heart was here,” said Heritage head coach Don Sanders. “I have to do a better job of getting them ready to play. This one is on me, I think.”

Sims and Duncan-Niusulu got the Colts (2-1) rolling with a 2-yard touchdown run and quarterback sneak, to propel James Logan to a 13-0 first-quarter lead that wouldn’t be relinquished. 

Taylor’s 47-yard catch and Sims’ 5-yard rumble into the end zone, pushed the Colts’ lead to 28-0, midway through the second quarter.