By Jeff Kessinger (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
There was no welcome mat for the Bolivar Liberators in their first trip to Lowe Stadium. Instead the visitors from Polk County were greeted with an aggressive Glendale defense.
Glendale (2-2) handed Bolivar a 20-15 defeat Friday night, the first loss in Ozark Conference play for the Liberators. The defeat is Bolivar’s first regular season loss since Oct. 12, 2018, ending a run of 13 wins in a row.
And the underdog Falcons felt pretty good about it.
“We usually play better when we’re the underdogs, truthfully,” junior linebacker Cooper Roy said. “This feels great. We came out ready and I’m glad we pulled off a win.”
Roy spent quite a bit of time in the Bolivar backfield, including a crucial moment early in the fourth quarter. Bolivar was trying to get back in the game, trailing 20-7. The Liberators had a first down at the Glendale 38, but couldn’t move the ball. Roy sacked Bo Banner on 4th-and-long to squash the Bolivar drive and zap the Liberators’ momentum.
That play was indicative of Glendale’s game plan against Bolivar: let the defensive line chew up blockers while the linebackers gobbled up ballcarriers.
“Our defensive coaches did a great job preparing our guys,” Glendale coach Mike Mauk said. “Our defensive line did a good job moving and giving (Bolivar) some different looks and our linebackers put some pressure on them from the outside. And our two inside guys did a good job. We gave up one long pass, but I thought we played really well all night long.”
Glendale’s offense didn’t put up its typical eye-popping numbers, but the Falcons did enough to win. Chris Floyd caught a short pass from Wyatt Andrews, shed a tackler and raced 65 yards to the end zone to stake Glendale to a 6-0 lead late in the first quarter.
“We were hyped all week in practice. We wanted this bad,” Floyd said. “I feel like this is the start of something good. We’ve definitely have the players, we’ve just got to play right.”
Bolivar (3-1) didn’t do a lot to help its own cause in the first half. The Liberators were scoreless on four trips into Glendale territory and turned the ball over three times. Two of those came in Glendale territory. The third turnover, a fumble, was the most costly. It gave Glendale a first down at the Bolivar 20 with 1:26 to play before the half.
The Falcons capitalized. Wyatt Andrews lobbed a beautiful ball into the back left corner of the endzone for Jack Clinkenbeard. The 20-yard strike pushed the Falcons in front 12-0 at the break.
Glendale’s lead grew to 20-0 midway through the third quarter. Andrews’ third touchdown pass of the game was a 10-yard strike to Derek Horton that almost put the game out of reach.
Bolivar didn’t quit, scoring on its very next possession. Banner threw a jump ball toward the goal line and 6-foot-2 tight end Parker Erickson outjumped the defense for the ball to make it a 20-7 game late in the third quarter.
The Liberators put together an impressive nine play, 91-yard drive in the fourth quarter to make things interesting. EJ Ingram capped that drive with a 3-yard plunge and Banner’s two-point conversion made it 20-15. Bolivar got the ball back one last time, but — out of timeouts — couldn’t come up with a miracle to win the game.
Instead it was the Falcons celebrating their first home win of the season, a two-game winning streak and Coach Mauk’s birthday.
“I was proud of (our players’) effort, their determination and their desire to play their best game and not flinch when it got tough,” Mauck said. “Bolivar’s got a good team and they’re very well coached.”
Glendale visits Lebanon Sept. 25, trying to make it three wins in a row.
“We’re starting to get the hang of things,” Roy said. “We need to keep doing what we’re doing.”
Andrews finished 29-for-50 passing, for 347 yards and those three touchdowns. Floyd led the receivers with nine catches for 165 yards. Horton added 10 grabs for 87 yards.
Darrin Fugitt led the Bolivar offense with 165 yards on 27 carries. Banner rushed 18 times for 75 yards and threw for nearly 100. The Liberators travel to Camdenton next week.
BHS 0 0 7 8 — 15
GHS 6 6 8 0 — 20
4:37 — Glendale: Chris Floyd 65 pass from Wyatt Andrews (run failed), 6-0
:30.7 — Glendale: Jack Clinkenbeard 20 pass from Andrews (pass failed), 12-0
7:37 — Glendale: Derek Horton 10 pass from Andrews (Horton pass from Andrews), 20-0
2:29 — Bolivar: Parker Erickson 38 pass from Bo Banner (Nathan McClellan kick), 20-7
3:36 — Bolivar: EJ Ingram 3 run (Banner run), 20-15