BRISTOL — Bozeman and Liberty County, two teams with postseason aspirations, provided a potential playoff preview on Friday.
The Bulldogs showed their depth with their starting quarterback and running back out with ankle injuries as they held back the Bucks 27-18. Harold Armstrong and Ben Beckwith rushed for 108 and 96 yards, respectively, and combined for three touchdowns for Liberty County in replacing Alex Marlowe’s production.
The teams are in opposite districts and could meet in the first or second round of the playoffs if both advance that far. Friday provided tuneups for both, as they play crucial district games next week.
Liberty County rushed for 268 yards, with the bulk coming in the first half. Bozeman was sluggish and plagued by penalties, including four unsportsmanlike conduct flags in the second half.
“It was tremendous the way our young kids stepped up,” Liberty County coach Grant Grantham said. “We practiced like it didn’t affect us and that was surprising, but they did a good job.”
Liberty County (5-2) took control with three different running backs scoring in the first half for a 20-6 lead. Armstrong, the senior leader, opened the scoring with a 6-yard run on the game’s first drive.
Ryan Reisoglu scored from 5 yards for a 13-0 advantage after Bozeman went three-and-out on its first possession. Beckwith broke free for a 41-yard run in the second quarter to cap the first-half scoring.
Bozeman (4-2) punted twice and ended a third possession with James Jernigan’s fumble that preceded Beckwith’s jaunt. The Bucks cut into the lead with a drive nearly derailed by three penalties.
Two holding flags negated Jacob Martinez scoring runs. However, he connected with David Elmore late in the first quarter for 15 yards and a touchdown one play after his 8-yard scramble was nullified.
“We showed we could move the ball,” Bozeman coach Loren Tillman said. “But it’s tough to have to score three times for one touchdown.”
Freshman Micah McCaskill started at quarterback in place of Dustin Watson. McCaskill handed off most of the game, but finished 1 of 4 for 30 yards.
Martinez was 7 of 10 for 106 yards and two touchdowns in leading Bozeman to late scores to make the score respectable. He also rushed for 80 yards and led a Bozeman running attack that was held in check until Jovani Bell’s 82-yard score to pull Bozeman within 27-12 with 3:06 to play.
Bozeman’s playoff hopes rest on next week’s home game with Chipley in District 3-1A.
“We know we’re capable of playing better, but to be honest we’re mentally and physically tired,” Tillman said. “Next week is next week and we’ll be ready and playing at home will help.”
Liberty County faces over-the-bridge rival Blountstown in a battle of last season’s champion and runner-up in District 4-1A.
“We had six kids out,” Grantham said. “We won’t get two back for sure and we don’t know about the rest.”
- Bozeman 6 0 0 12 - 18
- Liberty County 13 7 7 0 - 27
- First quarter
- LCHS - Armstrong 6 run (Espinoza kick) 9:08, 7-0 LCHS
- LCHS - Reisoglu 5 run (pass failed) 5:06, 13-0
- BOZ - Elmore 15 pass from Martinez (kick blocked) :53, 13-6
- Second quarter
- LCHS - Beckwith 41 run (Espinoza kick) 4:27, 20-6
- Third quarter
- LCHS - Armstrong 7 run (Espinoza kick) 4:41, 27-6
- Fourth quarter
- BOZ - Bell 82 run (pass failed) 3:06, 27-12
- BOZ - Cook 31 pass from Martinez (pass failed) :09, 27-18