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Bolts outlast Golden Hawks at home

Liberty High defeats Mid-Prairie, 27-25
Kaleb Williams sprints downfield Friday, Sept. 14, at home against Mid-Prairie, Wellman. The Lightning outlasted the Golden Hawks, 27-25, to improve to 2-2. Williams scored twice for Liberty in the non-district contest. (photo by Chris Umscheid)

NORTH LIBERTY– “It coulda gone either way,” said Liberty High Head Coach Jeff Gordon after his varsity football team defeated Mid-Prairie, Wellman, 27-25, Friday, Sept. 14, at home on Liberty’s first “Make a Difference” night for pediatric cancer.
The “Bolts” looked as though they were going to make it a short night as they scored twice in the first quarter. First, Drake Woody connected with Kelby Telander for a touchdown pass and Ryan Nugent’s point-after kick sailed through the uprights for a 7-0 lead. Then, with 6:50 remaining in the period, Jack Ankenbauer scrambled for a short run and Liberty’s second touchdown. The Lightning attempted a two-point conversion, but came up short, settling for a 13-0 lead.
Mid-Prairie started a drive at the end of the quarter, which carried over into the second and scored with 7:56 left in the half. The Golden Eagles added on a two-point conversion to cut the deficit to 13-8. The Eagles flew into the end zone again with 2:57 left in the half on a 16-yard run to take the lead, 14-13. Another successful two-point play gave the Golden Eagles a 16-13 advantage going into halftime.
“I’m proud of their (Liberty’s) fight,” Gordon said after the game. “They got knocked on the canvas there in the second quarter, and they had a decision to make at halftime: pack it in and take it, or come out and at least fight and who knows what is going to happen… But I was just proud of them.”
Kaleb Williams scored on first and goal with 3:43 left in the third quarter to regain the lead at 19-16. Nugent’s extra point made it 20-16. Williams struck again late in the fourth quarter, diving in for his second touchdown of the night. Ben Houselog did the PAT honors, booting the ball through the uprights for a 27-16 advantage with 1:50 left in the ballgame.
Mid-Prairie wasn’t ready to go home yet, however, and made a quick drive to the Bolts’ end zone, scoring on a pass to make it 27-22. This time the Eagles’ two-point play was foiled with 1:01 remaining.
The victory and game were extra special for Williams, whose eight-year-old cousin Aidan (who is battling cancer) was watching from the sidelines as a kid captain for the Make a Difference night.
“I think he (Williams) found some extra juice inside of his body, because he understands that this is just a game,” Liberty High coach Jeff Gordon said. “It was a very emotional night for Kaleb, so I was just really happy the way it turned out.”
The win improved Liberty’s record to 2-2 ahead of the start of district play Friday, Sept. 21, at Clear Creek Amana (CCA) High School in Tiffin. The Bolts will meet the 4-0 “Boats” (Clippers) on CCA’s Homecoming Night with the freshman-sophomore game kicking off at 5 p.m. with the varsity contest to follow at about 7:15 p.m.