Bolivar High School football never let up Friday, Aug. 30.

Hosting Eldon at Southwest Baptist University’s Plaster Stadium, the Liberators put down the Mustangs 54-8, opening their season with a definitive win.

“I thought we had a great opening win, and I’m really proud of our effort,” Bolivar coach Glen Johnson told the BH-FP after the game.

Eldon beat Bolivar 42-26 last year.

The masterclass offensive and defensive performances came at the hands of coordinators Austin Conrad and Travis Gregory, who scored their first win in their first game, Johnson said.

“I can’t say enough about the effort of our team tonight,” Johnson added.

Scoring started early for the Liberators.

After Eldon won the coin toss, Darrin Fugitt caught the kickoff, running to start the Liberators at their own 39. Bolivar quarterback Hayden Burks threw to Hunter Berry, moving Bolivar to the defense’s 40.

That was close enough for Bolivar’s Eathen Dinwiddie, who exploded for his first of many touchdowns Friday, running clear to the end zone. Dinwiddie would have 12 carries on the night. Kicker Alex Maldonado split the goal posts to put the Liberators up 7-0 with 10:40 remaining in the first quarter.

A long kick pinned Eldon at its own 22, and Bolivar piled on the pressure. However, the Mustangs managed a carry, running the ball into Bolivar territory.

Just as Bolivar appeared to be surrendering momentum, the Liberators’ Payton Vahle grabbed an interception, running the ball back to Bolivar’s 43-yard line.

From there, Bolivar’s Blade Hancock took the ball 57 yards in for the touchdown. Maldonado’s kick was again accurate, putting the Liberators up 14-0.

After the kickoff, Eldon faced a 70-yard field from its own 30, but a penalty pushed the team back another 5 yards. Bolivar kept the pressure on and forced a punt, which fell short.

On the first play after the punt, Burks tossed to Hancock, who picked up yards to move the Liberators to within 8 yards of the goal line. From there, Bo Banner ran the ball in for a touchdown.

The kick was good, and Bolivar had a 21-0 lead with 4:17 left in the first quarter.

Eldon again faced a long field after the kickoff, this time starting on its 27.

Hard pressure brought a stuffed run and an incomplete pass before the Mustangs punted again. Fugitt got a hand on the punt, tipping it short, and Bolivar took over on Eldon’s 42-yard line.

The success was short-lived as Burks was intercepted at Eldon’s 21-yard line. However, Eldon couldn’t make the turnover count, only bringing the ball back to its own 35 before the quarter ended with Bolivar up by three scores.

A short punt gave Bolivar the ball in Eldon territory, and the first play saw Dinwiddie run about 40 yards for the touchdown. Maldonado’s kick was good.

Bolivar again gave Eldon a long field, pinning the Mustangs at their own 25 before applying pressure and taking over on downs.

Parker Erickson got the Liberators closer to the goal before Dinwiddie made the run in for the touchdown with 8:19 left in the half. Maldonado was again true, putting the Liberators up 35-0.

Eldon made it as far Bolivar’s 42-yard line on a sneak by Kaden Dillon, but a Banner tackle in the backfield and fumble put the Mustangs at third and long.

Under pressure, Dillon threw an interception and Vahle picked up his second pick of the night. With 6:35 left in the half, Banner, now on offense, carried the ball to Eldon’s 21-yard line. One snap later, the junior picked up the score, running the ball into the end zone.

Maldonado’s kick was tipped in the air, falling outside the goal posts. Bolivar was up 41-0 with five minutes left in the half. 
Dinwiddie picked up another score after the Mustangs relinquished the ball, this time darting into the end zone from midfield. Maldonado’s kick again fell outside the goal posts. The Liberators ended the half up 47-0.

Banner continued to shoulder a large load for the Liberators in the second half, as the home team began substituting in new players.

Quarterback Brant Meredith came in for the Liberators, getting the ball to Dylan Hall, who took it 29 yards for a touchdown with about 3:30 left in the third quarter. Maldonado’s kick gave the Liberators 54.

Eldon managed its lone score in the final quarter, running the ball in about 5 yards for the score with eight minutes left in the game. A two-point conversion was successful.

Bolivar football next faces Mountain View Liberty at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 6, in Mountain View.

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