The Libby High School Football team had a successful homecoming weekend with a 42-14 win over the Browning Indians Friday.
Despite the lopsided score, the Loggers didn’t lead by more than a touchdown until late in the third quarter, and during the first half, it looked like it might be anyone’s game.
Libby senior wide receiver JJ Davis started off his night as homecoming king strong with a 30 yard carry that put junior quarterback Jeff Offenbecher close enough to make a touchdown on the third down with a keeper play. Junior Chandler Bower kicked the extra point to make it 7-0, Libby.
The Indians answered on the next possession with a touchdown of their own by sophomore running back Trevon Fisher, who was a thorn in the Logger defense and offense throughout the game. But an attempt at a two-point conversion fell flat, leaving the Logger lead hanging on by a thread.
In the final seconds of the first quarter, the Loggers seemed ready to rally after an interception by Libby junior Luke Foreman that put the Loggers on the Browning 28 yard line. But on the next play, Fisher snatched an interception from Davis just in front of the Indian goal line, and Browning went back on the offensive.
An offsides penalty and fumble recovered by Browning senior defensive lineman Wacey Zuback turned back a Libby drive that came within 5 yards of scoring midway through the second quarter.
On the next possession, the Indians turned over the ball on a sack on the fourth down, but Browning senior defensive back C.J. Smith followed on the very next play with an interception, beginning an offensive drive that would end with Browning over Libby, 14-7, with only 43 seconds left in the half.
Libby picked up play at their own 36 yard line, and Offenbecher got to work. A pass to Bower gained the Loggers 45 yards, and another to Davis added 13 more.
Offenbecher pushed to within a yard of the end zone with a keeper play, and sophomore running back Dawson Young made the touchdown.
With a good kick from Bower and only 13 seconds left in the half, the Loggers had caught back up to Browning.
Libby Head Coach Neil Fuller acknowledged that Offenbecher had a rough start Friday.
“He had a couple goofy mistakes,” Fuller said. “But he really bounced back and worked through that and came out and did a great job in the second half.”
Fuller said he felt Libby could have ended the half with a two-touchdown lead.
“But that’s just the nature of the game,” he said. “They’re a good football team, and we knew that if we turned the ball over, if we gave them any breathing room, they were going to take advantage of it.”
Libby also had to make some adjustments to deal with Browning, Fuller said.
“They can throw the ball over the football field. They have very good receivers. Their offensive line does a good job. They have good running backs,” he said.
Libby adjusted to slow down the Indian passing game, and did a good job of it, he said. But, they gave up some run defense to do it.
“We just had a heck of a time slowing down their off-tackle play, and that’s something we need to fix,” he said.
The Loggers seized the momentum again in the opening of the second half, with Offenbecher recovering an onside kick by Bower near the Browning 37 yard line. But the Indians pushed the Loggers back and forced a turnover after sacking Offenbecher.
The two teams battled fiercely until almost midway into the third quarter, when Libby took possession after a sack near the Browning 42 yard line.
Offenbecher and Dawson worked the ball up the field, and in four plays Dawson crossed into the Indian end zone to restore the Logger lead, 20-14.
With about 7 minutes left in the quarter, Bower made that 21-14, before punting the ball over to Browning.
Only a little over a minute later, Libby sophomore defensive back Ryker McElmurry halted an Indian drive with an interception, as the Loggers once again stole the initiative.
Starting at the Browning 40 yard line, the Loggers made a steady march up the field over the next several minutes, ending with a touchdown by Offenbecher.
In the final quarter, Dawson and freshman fullback Aydan Williamson scored two more touchdowns for Libby, while the Logger defense kept Browning scoreless.
With a final high note, Libby junior defensive lineman Dakota Redifer entered the game late in the fourth quarter and recovered a Browning fumble shortly before the teams let the clock run out on the final seconds.
Fuller said he felt the Loggers ran the ball well once again.
“We rushed for over 300 yards, and we had just under 150 yards passing, which, we want to strive for good balance there, but anytime you can get over 400 yards of total offense, things are going well,” he said. “But we’re just excited that we were able to run the football against them.
“They loaded the box up on us, and our offensive line still did a great job of giving our backs running lanes. That was a huge accomplishment for our offense,” Fuller said.
Fuller more than once pointed out the work the offensive line did to make the Logger win happen.
With only two games left in their regular season -- an away game at Ronan this Friday before the team returns to Logger Stadium on Friday, Oct. 19 to host Whitefish -- the impact of a win or loss will be felt that much more.
“If we win our next two games, we’ve got a great shot at being in the playoffs,” Fuller said. “So, we have to take care of business first with Ronan, and then we finish up the regular season with Whitefish at home.”
Friday, Oct. 5
Libby 42, Browning 14
L 7 7 14 14 - 42
B 6 8 0 0 - 14