From the Bedford Bulletin
By Mike Forster
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There was no rest for the weary, while the well-rested ran roughshod.
Liberty limped into Stinger Stadium for its VHSL Regional semifinal against top-seeded Brookville. The Minutemen limped out of the joint following a 42-14 pasting at the hands of the Bees.
Brookville, which had last played on October 26, obviously made the most of its down time. With the exception of some needless penalties, the Bees played nearly flawless football. Brookvilles long respite was due to the teams bye week being scheduled on the last weekend of the regular season, with the Bees earning a bye week via the top seeding in Region III, Div. 3.
We were tired of hitting each other, said Brookville Head Coach Jeff Woody. We were ready for some fresh (bodies to hit).
Liberty, meanwhile, had to beat Lord Botetourt in a play-in game the previous weekend to earn the trip to Brookville. The Minutemen looked worse for the wear, coughing up three untimely fumbles and giving up three interceptions. Brookvilles only turnover was on a muffed onside kick.
I thought wed cured fumble-itis, said Liberty Head Coach Chris Watts. Maybe we put too much emphasis on it in practice. We were stopping ourselves.
In the opening quarter, the Minutemen seemed like the same team that had watched, shell-shocked, as the Bees tore up 40 second-half points in their last matchup. Brookville rang up 21 unanswered points in that opening stanza, including a first-series touchdown strike from quarterback Logan Thomas to Chad Mason that accounted for 50 yards. On his third play of the game, Thomas hit Mason cutting across the middle, the slight junior turned on the burners and outran the Liberty defense for the score.
With Derek Comer back under center, the Minutemen opened their first possession deep in their own territory. A fumble on a pitch from Comer to tailback Fuquan Goode was recovered by Bee Nick Watts to set Brookville up in business on the Liberty 16 yard line. The Minutemen defense held, putting the Bees in a fourth-and-four from the 10. From there, Thomas handed to the dangerous Stacey Houston, who found a gap in the middle and launched himself into the end zone.
The carnage continued. With the Minutemen on the move, courtesy of a 32-yard pass connection between Comer and Boo Payne, Goode was wrapped up and stripped of the ball. Linebacker Jarrett Bateman recovered for the Bees. Some might recall it was Batemans strip-and-run that resulted in Brookvilles final tally the last time these two teams met.
Starting on their own 26, Thomas and Houston ground out big yardage, which culminated in Houstons 14-yard run around end, the fleet junior going to the end zone unmolested.
Following an interception by Brookvilles Mason, Houston broke loose for a 55 yard run before being wrangled down at the Liberty 6 yard line. From there, Bateman popped it in for a 28-0 lead.
At this point, tempers seemed to flare and some post-play jawing took on the potential of escalating to a higher level. To the credit of the referees, some well-timed and well-directed flags brought things under control.
Liberty had a shot to get on the board, but left for the intermission with heavy hearts. A 28 yard run by Lavarta Tanner brought the Minutemen into striking distance. Hard runs by Comer and Goode pushed Liberty inside the 10 yard line.
But with time running out, Brookvilles defense put up an impressive goal-line stand. Starting with a first-and-goal from the five, Liberty took four cracks at the end zone, but gave up the ball when Tanner was stopped on the 4 inch line with 28 seconds remaining, sending the Brookville faithful into delirium.
In order for us to win, we needed to take advantage of opportunities, said Watts. We didnt do that.
That mood was bolstered at the opening of the second half as Liberty fumbled away the ball on its first play from scrimmage. Four plays later, Mason danced into the end zone following a 27 yard pass from Thomas.
To their credit, the Minutemen didnt quit. Down 35-0, Comer launched a 41 yard pass to Ryan Webb who was streaking down the right sideline. Webb caught the ball over his shoulder and in stride, finally putting Liberty on the scoreboard.
On the ensuing kickoff, Libertys Logan Thomas drilled a perfect onside kick attempt, which bounced off the Brookville return team and into the hands of the Minutemen.
Comer and Webb hooked up on the exact same pass play, with Webb diving for the catch, which put the Minutemen in business on the Brookville 14. Goode and Comer each had hard runs to get the ball to the one yard line. From there, Tanner dove in for another touchdown and the Liberty stands came to life.
But the Brookville defense would yield no further, and Thomas went on a 63-yard dash up the middle to ice the game completely, with Brookvilles sixth touchdown of the game.
Coach Watts was happy not to see his team collapse at the half. I was very proud of the way they responded, (especially) with so many players going both ways. I couldnt be prouder.
Coach Woody, whose team will next host Stuarts Draft, seemed pleased with what hes got. Liberty, for so long, was where we wanted to be.
Now, with the tables turned, the Minutemen have something to aim for when they start up next season.