Neah Bay’s Jodell Wimberley runs with the ball against Liberty Bell in the state 1B football championship game. Neah Bay lost 50-12. (Maria Dorsten/for Peninsula Daily News)

Neah Bay’s Jodell Wimberley runs with the ball against Liberty Bell in the state 1B football championship game. Neah Bay lost 50-12. (Maria Dorsten/for Peninsula Daily News)

STATE FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP: Neah Bay falters after halftime in loss to Liberty Bell

Tied at half, turnovers sink Red Devils

TACOMA — Neah Bay’s state championship dreams faded after halftime in a 50-12 loss to Liberty Bell as Red Devil fumbles, interceptions and penalties propelled the Mountain Lions’ fleet suite of athletes to that school’s first state football title.

The Red Devils turned the ball over five times on the sun-splashed turf at Mount Tahoma High School on Saturday — three fumbles and two interceptions, including a 93-yard interception return by Remington Paz to make it a two-score game at 20-6 in the third quarter.

Neah Bay (11-1) answered when Jodell Wimberley busted loose for a 39-yard gain inside the red zone and Julian Carrick found Adan Ellis with a nifty fourth-down touchdown pass from 11 yards out to make it 20-12 for Liberty Bell (11-2) with three minutes left in the third quarter.

But the Mountain Lions quick-strike capabilities showed out on their next drive as Liberty Bell answered back with another TD — Merek Johnson running in from 11 yards out — within 32 seconds to again push the lead back out to two scores at 28-12.

Neah Bay’s ensuing drive foundered at the Liberty Bell 40-yard line inside the first minute of the fourth quarter and a couple of plays later Mountain Lions’ quarterback Jeff Lidey scampered 43 yards to pay dirt and ultimately an insurmountable 34-12 advantage.

Tight first half

The two teams felt each other out for much of the first half with both teams seeing drives sputter out on turnover on downs or just plain turnovers — including Makiyah Chambers’ nab off a Jeff Lidey pass at the 5-yard line.

Liberty Bell cashed in first midway through the second quarter when Lucien Paz scored on a 2-yard run, but Neah Bay answered immediately. At least they thought they had.

A desperate scramble by Carrick resulted in a pop pass over the on-rushing defense to a wide-open Ellis, who sped up the left sideline for a 54-yard touchdown, freed by a strong crackback block on a Liberty Bell defender.

Owing to a preference for player safety, those types of blocks are not allowed in today’s high school football and the play was whistled for a 15-yard personal foul blindside block penalty.

Instead of celebrating a tie score, Neah Bay was forced back beyond midfield and its drive later stalled.

The first half ended with the team tied at 6-6.

Carrick also had an interception in the game. It was Neah Bay’s first appearance in the 1B state championship game since 2016 and the Red Devils’ sixth appearance in the title game since 2011. It was also the second straight year that an Olympic Peninsula team played in the state 1B championship game. Last year, it was Quilcene.

Liberty Bell 50, Neah Bay 12

Neah Bay 0 6 6 0 — 12

Liberty Bell 0 6 22 22 — 50

Second Quarter

LB — Lucien Paz 3 run (pass failed) 6:06.

NB — Julian Carrick 1 run (run failed) 33.4.

Third Quarter

LB — Remington Paz 2 run (Lucien Paz run) 9:34

LB — Remington Paz 93 interception return (run failed) 5:31.

NB — Adan Ellis 11 pass from Carrick (run failed) 2:34

LB — Merek Johnson 11 run (Sawyer Crandall pass from Lidey) 2:14

Fourth Quarter

LB — Lidey 43 run (Crandall pass from Lidey) 11:15.

LB — Lucien Paz 17 pass from Lidey (Crandall pass from Lidey) 2:45.

LB — Johnson 4 run (Johnson run) :55.

________

Sports reporter Michael Carman can be contacted at mcarman@peninsuladailynews.com.

Neah Bay players and coaches gather for a team photo after accepting the Class 1B state football championship second-place trophy. Jodell Wimberly was named the team’s Most Sportsmanlike Player for his play in the game by the WIAA. (Michael Carman/Peninsula Daily News)

Neah Bay players and coaches gather for a team photo after accepting the Class 1B state football championship second-place trophy. Jodell Wimberly was named the team’s Most Sportsmanlike Player for his play in the game by the WIAA. (Michael Carman/Peninsula Daily News)

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