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If Pinnacle wants an example of how to bounce back from a devastating loss to Chandler, the Pioneers need to look no further than Region 1 rival Liberty.

The Lions lost 44-10 to the Wolves in Week 1 but bounced back Friday to blank Red Mountain 30-0 in a rematch of their 6A championship game from last December that Liberty won 34-28 in overtime for its first state title.

“It was not all that difficult,” Lions coach Colin Thomas said of putting the Week 1 defeat behind them. “We were able to take some positives from that game, and obviously, playing Red Mountain again, it was exciting for our kids to play against them, so we were able to rebound quickly.”

The Mountain Lions had their chances early. A long interception return for a touchdown by Skylar Edmonds was called back for an illegal block. They then marched into the red zone before missing on a field goal attempt.

On the ensuing possession, a personal foul penalty extended a Lions drive after a fourth-down stop, leading to a short field goal by Shane Pitts. 

Later, with the score 10-0, the Mountain Lions drove to the Liberty 2 but ran out of time as halftime hit.

In the second half, Liberty took control, converting on fourth down for Callin Knapp’s second touchdown run of the game to push the lead to 17-0, and Brock Mast hitting on two touchdown passes.

The defense, meanwhile, bent but never allowed the Mountain Lions into the end zone.

“Chandler threw over the top several times on us, but our defense was able to do a much better job against the pass this week,” Thomas said. “Our defense begins and ends with Jax (Stam, five tackles) and Shane (seven tackles), and they made plays consistently Friday. We were able to limit their explosive plays and make some ourselves.”

— René FerránJax Stam photo by Elena Bernardo - EMB Photoshop

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