The always-rugged Seminole District schedule got ramped up Friday night as Liberty tried to stay perfect by taking out the class of the Seminole the past two seasons, the Brookville Bees.
Liberty got out to a 2-0 start to the season for the second straight year, hoping to make it a 3-0 start against Brookville. The Minutemen won their first two games by a combined 39 points, thanks to an effective option-style offense.
As for Brookville, the visiting Bees are adjusting to a new head coach in Marshall Schmitt, and trying to fill the shoes of 28 seniors who graduated off last year's state championship team.
The Liberty Minutemen were looking to defeat Brookville for the first time since 2009 in a Seminole District match-up, whereas the Bees were looking to hand the Minutemen their first loss of the season.
After a scoreless first quarter with four turnovers, the Minutemen got on the board in the second. Austin Porter got it to Dustin Hiner, who broke free for the 54-yard touchdown run. They went for two to make it an 8-0 lead.
Liberty added to it two minutes before the half when Porter keeps it himself and stretched for the pylon for the 7-yard score. And with a big goal line stand from Liberty right before the half, the MInutemen took the momentum and a 15-0 lead into the locker room. The tide turned in the third though, thanks in a big way to Ben Hogg. He was on the receiving end of a 24-yard touchdown to make it a 15-7 ball game.
"He's one of the best receivers in the area and he can go get it. Good job on his part," Brookville head coach Marshall Schmitt said.
Just 90 seconds later, Liberty pushed the lead back to 15 with a 70-yard touchdown run from Hiner. Now 22-13 later third, Hogg intercepted Porter's pass for his second pick of the game. Then on the first play of the ensuing driver, it's Hogg again. A 28-yard touchdown catch and the Bees are back in business, down by just two points heading into the four.
"It was very crucial. We had to bring it within at least a touchdown by the 4th quarter because we know anything can happen in the 4th quarter," said Hogg, who had four touchdowns and two interceptions.
Brookville kept it rolling and took their first lead of the game when Alan Gutierrez nailed the 38-yard field goal to put the Bees up 23-22 with 8 minutes to play. Liberty kept its composure and with 3:30 to play, Devin Carper went across the goal line for the Minutemen touchdown. With the two-point conversion, they went ahead by 7. Brookville put together a late drive and with under 15 seconds to play, Neal Reynolds found Hogg for the 23-yard touchdown, making it 30-29. The Bees went for two and the win. Guess whose number they're calling? Ben Hogg hauled in the two-point conversion, and that is your ball game. Brookville with the Liberty 31-30 win.
"We've been preaching come together as a team and at halftime we made a decision that we were going to come together and we were going to get this win one way or another,” Hogg said. “We didn't know how we were going to do it but we knew we were going to come together to get the win. It's not just me because we've got a hell of a line and we got a quarterback that can throw the ball on the money and it was all of us coming together. I made some catches but Phillip Watts made some runs, Andrew made some runs, Josh had some blocks. We all did this. It was not one person. This was not a one person win."
Liberty head coach Chris Watts: "We responded but there were several chances to make a play at the end of the ball game and we just didn't do it. When we needed to make a play there at the end we didn't and when they needed to make one they did and that's the bottom line."
Brookville beat Liberty for the fourth straight year, handing the Minutemen their first loss of the season.