Liberty picks up a crucial NWOC victory in a 42-36 shootout against Putnam

Liberty survived a spirited effort from Putnam on Friday night to post a 42-36 victory that vaulted the Falcons into a tie for second place in the Northwest Oregon HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - Liberty senior running back Kyle Rose looks for running room down the sideline during last Friday's NWOC football game against Putnam.

Liberty (4-2, 3-1 NWOC) built a 43-22 lead early in the fourth quarter, but watched as Putnam (1-5, 1-3) stormed back with two quick touchdowns to make it a one-possession game. The Kingsmen got the ball back with 3:52 remaining, but Liberty was able to run out the clock after Josey Swain’s pass fell incomplete on 4th-and-2.

John Bradley had a sensational game for Putnam with 305 yards of total offense and three touchdowns that spanned 80 yards or more — a 91-yard return on the game’s opening kickoff, an 84-yard run later in the first quarter and a 95-yard reception with 6:19 left in the game that cut Liberty’s lead to 43-36.

While the Falcons didn’t have an answer for Bradley, they did provide plenty of their own offensive fireworks, with 484 total yards and 22 first downs.

Senior running back Matthew Langbehn answered Bradley’s first-quarter kickoff return with a 10-yard touchdown run that tied the score at 7-7, and sophomore quarterback Blake Walker responded to Bradley’s long run later in the quarter with a 7-yard scoring scamper, tying things up at 14-14.

Liberty went on top one minute before halftime, getting a 5-yard touchdown pass from Walker to Austin Mason that gave the Falcons a 21-14 lead, and they extended the margin to 28-14 on their first possession of the second half, capping a 73-yard drive with Walker’s 2-yard touchdown run.

Special teams once again bit the Falcons when Putnam’s Tyler Strauss returned the ensuing kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown, and Swain ran in the two-point conversion to trim Liberty’s lead to 28-22.

The Falcons then began a methodical 18-play drive that started from their own 11-yard line and chewed up nearly seven minutes of clock. The drive ended when Kyle Rose punched into the end zone from a yard out, and Rose also ran in the two-point conversion to extend the lead to 36-22.

Liberty used a short field to score its final points of the game, needing only three plays before Walker hooked up with Levi Posen on a 39-yard touchdown pass with 10:41 remaining.

Walker completed 11-of-21 pass attempts for 172 yards and two touchdowns, and he also ran in two scores. Langbehn carried 17 times for 50 yards and a touchdown, and Deven Kaneshiro added 98 yards on 12 carries. Hunter Dehlin (67 yards) and Cameron Colbert (62) also contributed to the Falcons’ 312 rushing yards.

Liberty will be at home again tonight when the Falcons host Sandy for a 7 p.m. kickoff.

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