Cooper Hitchcock shone bright on a night when the Liberator defense stole the show, grabbing an interception out of the air from West Plains quarterback Connor Rackley and returning the pick for a touchdown as Bolivar High School football upset the Zizzers 36-21 Friday, Nov. 8.
The Liberators will take a No. 3 seed to the Class 4 District 6 championship against No. 1 Webb City Friday, Nov. 15.
Hitchcock’s return put Bolivar up 21-7 near the end of the first quarter. Rackley was injured on the play and hobbled through the rest of the contest.
Eathen Dinwiddie kicked scoring off, dashing into the end zone in the game’s first minute to put his team up 7-0.
After West Plains tied the game, Bolivar quarterback Hayden Burks threw a touchdown pass to Hunter Berry to take a 14-7 advantage.
Andrew Bunn and Drayton Huchteman came up big on a later series, dropping a West Plains ball carrier for a loss as the momentum flowed into Hitchcock’s interception.
With West Plains later knocking on the door of the end zone, Hitchcock gave a repeat performance, grabbing another interception to stop the touchdown.
Blade Hancock also had a big save to preserve his team’s early lead, chasing down a West Plains ball carrier to stop a score.
The Liberator defense kept the game in check to halftime and into the third quarter, stifling an offense that had entered the match averaging 43.8 points per game and had won both previous contests with the Liberators.
Behind the Liberators’ line, Bunn terrorized the backfield, stopping ball carriers for losses as the scoring slowed but the action stayed hot.
Kicker Alex Maldonado added 3 points on a field goal to give the Liberators a 24-7 lead near the end of the third quarter.
Parker Erickson reeled in a catch to set up a score from Blade Hancock, who picked up 6 more points with an end zone appearance.
Both teams traded scores late in the game, with Dinwiddie dashing in for 17 yards as Bolivar held its 36-21 lead through the game’s final two minutes.
See a preview of the Liberators’ district championship game in Wednesday’s issue of the BH-FP.