Late rally lifts Pike Lib over Liberty County

Published 9:41 pm Friday, October 13, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

The Pike Liberal Arts Patriots rallied to knock off the Liberty County (Fla.) Bulldogs by a score of 17-14 at home on Friday, Oct. 13.

Liberty County wasted no time jumping out to a lead, scoring on a 60-yard run from Rylan Roddenberry on just the second play of the game to go up 7-0. The Patriots responded, however, with an 8-play scoring drive that Jackson Bowen capped off with a 2-yard run to tie the score 7-7 with 6:34 left in the first quarter.

Liberty County drove back inside the PLAS 5-yard line after a 53-yard run from Roddenberry, but the PLAS defense stood tall. Pruitt Vaughan and Kade Brookins earned tackles-for-loss on back-to-back plays and then a bobbled pitch on an option forced Liberty County in a fourth-and-goal from the 12-yard line. A field goal attempt came up short to keep the score 7-7.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

After a Pike Lib punt, Liberty County marched right back into scoring position as the second quarter began. With a first-and-goal from the Patriot 7-yard line, Pike Lib’s Coy Bell stuffed the Bulldogs on first down and then dropped a Liberty County runner in the backfield on second down. On third down, Will Rice knocked down a LCHS pass. The Bulldogs opted for another field goal attempt but Jackson Mitchell blocked the attempt and Houston Gunter scooped it up and raced it back for a touchdown only for the score to be called back on a penalty.

Pike Lib was forced to punt again and Liberty County found the end-zone on an 11-yard touchdown pass from Roddenberry to Joe Brinson with 2:06 left in the half to go up 14-7.

Pike Lib was aided by a kick out of bounds and a pass interference penalty on the next drive and then Dawson Bradford found Brookins for a 21-yard pass deep into Liberty County territory. Pike’s Sawyer Keck booted a 39-yard field goal with just three seconds remaining to cut the Bulldog lead to 14-10 at halftime.

The two sides exchanged punts in the third quarter until Liberty County managed to march on a 9-play drive that ate up more than six minutes of game time. As the third quarter came to a close, the Bulldogs fumbled the snap and Pruitt Vaughan recovered it for PLAS.

Pike Lib then marched on a 14-play, 75-yard drive of its own that ate up nearly six minutes of time. During the drive, the Patriots managed to convert a fake punt on fourth down. The drive, however, resulted in zero points as the Patriots fumbled a snap deep in Liberty County territory.

The Pike Lib defense answered again, however, as Jackson Booth covered up a Liberty County fumble at the Bulldog 5-yard line with 2:26 remaining in the fourth quarter. Three plays later, Dawson Bradford marched into the end-zone on a 4-yard run to give Pike its first lead of the game 17-14 with 1:11 left.

Liberty County made things interesting by converting a third-and-long with a 33-yard pass into PLAS territory with 40 seconds left. With just four seconds remaining, the Bulldogs tried one final shot at the end-zone but Pike Lib’s John Lott tackled the LCHS ball carrier as time ran out securing the Patriot win.

Liberty County controlled the majority of the game, rolling up 234 yards on the ground and 323 yards of total offense, while Pike Lib managed 168 total yards with 107 yards through the air.

Bradford completed 11-of-16 passes for 97 yards and rushed for 36 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries. Brookins caught two passes for 54 yards. The PLAS defense was led by Pruitt Vaughan with 12 tackles and one tackle-for-loss, while Brookins earned five tackles, 1.5 tackles-for-loss and a pass breakup. Lott earned four tackles and a tackle-for-loss and Rice tallied five tackles and a pass breakup. Michael Vaughn also recovered a fumble.

Pike Lib is back at home next Friday, Oct. 20, to face off against Marianna (Fla.) at 7 p.m.