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Football: Libby falls by 1 point for 2nd straight week

by Brad FuquaWestern News
| October 12, 2009 12:00 AM

Despite a one-point loss on the scoreboard for a second straight week, the Libby High School football team is trying to focus on its own victories in various facets of the game.

Jon England, LHS defensive coordinator, said the Logger D played its best half of football this season over the third and fourth quarters against Whitefish on Friday night.

“That’s the best defensively we’ve played all year against a team that moved the ball on us in the first half pretty well a couple times,” England said following a 21-20 Whitefish victory. “Last week, I told them I thought they came together in that Columbia Falls game … We were giving up yards and some points but we were playing better. They’re getting the idea and playing more aggressively and understanding what we’re trying to do.”

Whitefish came out with its “wildcat” offense and found some success with players like running backs Daniel Simmons and Derek Crittenden, quarterback Mac Roche and receiver Willie Roche.

“They’re a power running team and they want to mix it up a little bit … those select moments when they want to throw it,” England said. “In the first half, they were a little successful on some pass play situations.”

Libby struck paydirt first on a 60-yard pass from Kelly May to Kody Berget – a combination that has worked well at times this season. Whitefish had the Loggers backed up into a third-and-12 situation when May found Berget.

Late in the half, Whitefish got on the scoreboard with an eight-play drive that covered 58 yards. On fourth-and-13 at the Libby 34, Mac Roche and Willie Roche hooked up for a 29-yard completion and a first down. On the next play, Crittenden scored on a five-yard run.

Whitefish followed with touchdowns on its next two possessions. First, the Bulldogs put together a 13-play, 72-yard drive that used up much of the second quarter. On third-and-goal from the 11, Mac Roche again found Willie Roche on a big play for the TD.

Libby fumbled the ball away on its next possession and four plays later, Mac Roche tossed another pass to Willie Roche on a TD that covered 20 yards.

A big defensive play got the Loggers back in the game. Libby had gone three-and-out on offense and needed something big to happen after forced to punt. On first down, T.J. Benson forced the quarterback to fumble and Kyle Sweedman scooped up the pigskin and scored from 23 yards out.

Later in the half, Libby drove inside the Bulldog 40 but stalled with incomplete passes.

Down by a touchdown, the Loggers upped their defensive intensity in the second half. Libby shutout Whitefish on the scoreboard and allowed only four first downs. The Bulldogs put together a decent drive in the third that reached the red zone but the Loggers took over after forcing an incomplete pass on fourth down.

Libby pulled to within 21-20 on its first possession of the second half. Benson broke off another big play with a 64-yard sprint to the Whitefish 3. Two plays later, he scored on a two-yard burst. The extra point attempt went awry, however, and a conversion pass failed to keep Whitefish on top.

And that turned out to be the difference down the stretch. But not before the Loggers put together one final drive in an attempt to nab the victory.

With 5 minutes showing on the clock, Libby took the ball over at its own 9 after a Whitefish punt. The Loggers moved the ball with a 27-yard toss down the left sideline from May to Alex Cislo. Two plays later, May found Phillip Nelson for another 12 yards.

Whitefish’s defense stiffened at that point and got the Loggers into a fourth-and-three situation. Libby called timeout with 3:43 left and later moved the chains with a five-yard pass from May to Benson. May followed with a 15-yard completion to Cislo for another first down.

On third-and-six from the 21, May passed for 12 yards and another first down to Berget. But the team’s passing fortunes on the drive ended there. On first down, Whitefish knocked down a pass attempt at the line of scrimmage. May picked up one yard on second down and then an incompletion followed on third down.

Kaila Forster, who had kicked two extra points earlier in the game, came in to attempt a 25-yard field goal. Whitefish got just enough of a hand on the ball, however, to force the attempt to fall short.

The Bulldogs took over possession and ran out the clock.

Libby is mathematically still alive for a playoff berth but needs a lot of help to reach the postseason. England said there is still plenty to play for.

“Playing for pride … there’s nothing wrong with that,” he said. “You play because you’re a Logger and want to represent the school well regardless of whether you’re in or out of the playoffs. We need to be fired up to play Ronan next week.”

Libby ended up with a 48-yard advantage in total yards with more first downs. Benson rushed for 120 yards on 14 carries along with four catches for 24 yards. Berget caught five balls for 108 yards and Cislo had three receptions for 51 yards. May completed 15-of-47 passes for 205 yards.

Simmons finished with 104 yards on 21 carries for the Bulldogs.