The Buna Cougars came from behind to pull out a 34-28 overtime win over the Liberty Panthers in Liberty on Friday night September 13, 2013.
It was a tale of two halves as Liberty came out flat before a packed house in Liberty Head Coach Chad Taylor's home debut and found themselves down 20-0 with 2;20 still to play in the first quarter before racing out of the locker room to take a 28-20 second half lead with 7:15 left in the game.
After surrendering a 71 yard 12 play dri1ve to Buna that chewed up more than half of the first quarter, the first offensive play from scrimmage for Liberty went just as head coach Chad Taylor had scripted it; an eight yard burst by running back Joe Wickliff but after that it was all downhill. A fumble on the next play gave the ball back to Buna.
Buna took just four plays to cross the goal line for the second and a 12-0 lead having missed both an extra point and a two point conversion.
Liberty got the ball back with 3:19 left in the first quarter and two plays later Buna had its second turnover of the game. A 40 yard pick six by sophomore linebacker Collin Boutin extended the Buna lead to 20-0 after a successful two point conversion by Mason Lopez.
Things began to settle down in the second quarter defensively but the offense continued to struggle accumulating barely a first down worth of yards in the first half. Buna meanwhile had racked up 169 yards and looked in control.
The Panthers opened the second half with a three and out but the black and gold defense returned the favor holding Buna to a three and out on their opening possession. The defensive stand sparked the offense and quarterback Andrew Fregia led Liberty on a quick five play 92 yard drive that brought the Liberty fans to their feet. The drive was keyed by a 58yard run by Fregia with Martin Doucet racing down the sideline for the final fifteen yards to paydirt..
Freshman linebacker tyris Williams fell on a loose ball at the Buna 25 yard line giving the ball back to the Liberty offense. The Panthers wasted little time putting up another score. Senior running back Aric Foster did the heavy work covering 24 of the 25 yards needed for the touchdown. Foster score from two yards out would be the first of his two touchdowns.
With the score 20- 14 in favor of the Cougars, Buna fumbled the ensuing kick-off and Liberty was back in business at the Buna 25 yard line. This time the offense needed just nineteen seconds for the go ahead score as Fregia hit Doucet with a 25 yard scoring strike. It was Liberty's first lead of the season.
Buna's next possession resulted in another three and out giving the ball back to Liberty at its own 37 yard line. Ten plays and 63 yards later, the Panthers were back in the endzone. Once again it was Foster punishing the Buna defense chewing up the final six yards putting Liberty up 28-20 after Junior Somano nailed the extra point.
The Cougars would not go away quietly putting together their own ten play scoring drive. The play was capped off by a one yard TD pass from quarterback Joseph Clark to tight end Tyler Edwards and a two point conversion from running back Matthew Biddle to force overtime with the two teams tied at 28=28.
Overtime starts with ball on the 25 yard line with the teams alternating series until someone scores. Liberty had first crack but could not dent the endzone.
Buna didn't let the opportunity go to waste scoring on their first possession on a run by Mason Lopez and a 34-28 win.
Foster paced the ground attack with 76 yards on 17 carries and two scores while Doucet recorded 55 yards of total offense and two scores ( one rushing TD, one aerial TD).
Head coach Chad Taylor was disappointed with the outcome but proud of his team's effort.
"These guys never quit," said Taylor. "They came out of the locker room and proved that they can play some good football. We didn't get the outcome we wanted but we are a lot farther along then we were this time last season. I couldn't be more proud of them."
Liberty (0-3) hosts Hamshire-Fannett in their homecoming game on Friday September 20, 2013 before opening District 22-3A play in Splendora on Septermber 27th. Both games are slated for 7:30p.m. kick-offs.