Early on it was the offense that paved the way for Buchholz against visiting Bolles (Jacksonville) on Friday night at Bradford High School in Starke.
But in the end it was the defense that made the plays as the Bobcats defeated the Class 4A No. 1 Bulldogs, 14-7, handing Bolles (6-1) its first loss of the season.
“I couldn’t be happier with our defense and the way that they played,” said Buchholz coach Mark Whittemore. “But really, offensively, we played a heck of a game too, we just didn’t put the scores on the board that we wanted but we churned up some serious offense. We obviously left some points on the field but they probably left a few too.”
Buchholz (7-1), which was playing a home game, scored on its opening possession.
Junior quarterback Creed Whittemore completed a 7-yard scoring pass to senior wide receiver Quan Lee for a 7-0 Buchholz lead with 3:32 to play in the opening quarter.
Following an interception and return by junior Donny Hiebert to the Bolles 17-yard line, the first of two picks for Hiebert, the Bobcats scored again.
Junior Amarius Hale ran it in from 17 yards out for a 14-0 lead with 1:12 to play in the first quarter.
Neither team scored in the second quarter as Buchholz coughed the ball up at the Bolles 9-yard line with 9:28 to play in the half and junior kicker Reed Roussou missed the first of four field goals.
“Our inability to stick it through the uprights a couple of times really kept it closer than maybe it should have been,” Whittemore said. “But that happens. Our kicker has a great leg and he’s going to be fine. It was a field position game and we had great field position all night.”
Following a scoreless third quarter, Bolles would fight back in the fourth.
Quarterback Jakie Judge scored on a 5-yard run on 4th-and-2 to the put the ‘Dogs on the scoreboard with 7:14 to play in the game to make it 14-7.
Perhaps the biggest play of the night came at the end when Omarion Littles intercepted Bolles quarterback DJ Moore in the end zone with 1:11 to play in the game to preserve the victory.
“The game plan was to try to keep #8 (Air Force commit Kade Frew) from breaking through our defense and running the ball all over us,” Littles said. “All they did was focus on running, so we knew that if could make them throw we’d have a chance.”
Littles, who was recognized as the Sonic Drive-In Player-of-the-Game, finished with two interceptions, giving the defense a total of four interceptions.
“Incredible,” Whittemore said. “I’m super excited about the way they played and Littles definitely deserves that recognition.”
Buchholz will host Forest (Ocala), which lost at Hawthorne, 27-6, on Friday, Oct. 29.
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