A failure to hold on to the football cost the South Walton Seahawks a 48-0 loss to the visiting Liberty County Bulldogs of Bristol.
The Seahawks fumbled the ball away two times and were intercepted twice in the first half.
“Turnovers,” was the main obstacle, South Walton Coach Phil Tisa said as he walked off the field.
“We were able to run the ball, but couldn’t sustain a drive because of turnovers.”
South Walton was able to run for 193 yards, but it wasn’t enough to keep up with Liberty’s 400 yards on the ground.
Top Dog for Liberty was Terryal Jenkins with 111 yards in eight carries, including two touchdowns. Alex Marlowe rushed six times for 64 yards and Dee Fitzgerald carried the ball three times for 58 yards. William Hayes had eight carries for 51 yards and two touchdowns.
Leading the Seahawks attack on the ground was senior running back Brandon Whalen with 136 yards in 20 carries. Sophomore Joe Ledo-Massey rushed eight times for 35 yards.
Liberty County scored on its opening drive taking less than two minutes to move the ball 62 yards for the score. Ben Beckwith picked up 18 yards for a first down and quarterback Dustin Watson hit Michael Robinson on a route for a 28-yard gain. Two plays later, Beckwith scored on a 6-yard run. Marco Espinoza kicked in the point after and the Bulldogs were up 7-0.
South Walton got the ball at the 20-yard line and fumbled it away on the first play. Hayden Sweir made the recovery for Liberty.
In less than a minute, Liberty hit pay dirt on an 8-yard run up the middle by Jenkins for the TD and a 14-0 lead after Espinoza’s kick.
On the South Walton’s next possession, the Seahawks picked up three first downs, before they fumbled it away inside the 25-yard line.
With 4:03 to go in the first quarter, Liberty took over on its own 21-yard line and drove 79 yards in eight plays for the score. Beckwith had a carry for 11 yards, Marlowe picked up 27 yards on the ground and Jenkins brought it down to the 1-yard line on a 16-yard run. Jenkins scored on the next play from 1-yard out. Liberty led 21-0 to start the second quarter.
The Seahawks again moved the ball with Alex Smith completing a couple of short passes mixed in with Ledo-Massey gaining yardage on the ground. With the ball across midfield, Liberty’s Michael Robinson picked off Smith.
The Bulldogs took over on the 20-yard line and scored again in less than 3 minutes. Jenkins had a 49-yard run on the drive that was capped off by a 1-yard run up the middle by William Hayes for the score.
South Walton, once again was on the move with Whalen picking up 39 and 10 yards a clip, were stopped inside the red zone. Seahawk quarterback Hampton Schaffer put the ball up to Bishop Waldrop but was intercepted by Liberty’s Robinson who ran it back 99 yards for the score. The Bulldogs led 35-0 at the half.
Liberty scored once in the third quarter on a 44-yard dash by Jordan Chaney. The extra point attempt failed.
South Walton came close to punching one in the end zone early in the fourth, but came up short on a fourth-and-two situation inside the 5-yard line.
With a running clock, Liberty struck one last time on a 17-yard run by William Hayes.
“We played hard. We didn’t quit that’s for sure,” Tisa said. “But until we learn to protect the football it’s going to be rough.”
The Seahawks host the Bozeman Bucks at 7 p.m. Friday night.