SAND HILLS — The Holmes County Blue Devils defeated Bozeman 34-13 in football Friday night.
The Blue Devils’ Michael Paul was the senior who put on a memorable performance in this game. In addition to scoring three touchdowns, the wingback rushed for a game-high 144 yards on 17 carries and caught two passes for 62 more, totaling 206 of Holmes County’s 378 total.
Paul had 93 yards and two touchdowns in the first quarter while Bozeman (1-1) was being held to 18 yards in two series.
When the Bucks carried momentum into halftime, Paul put his team back in front by two touchdowns with a 36-yard romp on third-and-31 midway through the third quarter.
Bozeman got within 21-13 when Cameron Hofmeister capped his team’s 14-play, 68-yard drive, but fullback Kevin Martinez burrowed in from the 2 for the Blue Devils (1-1) and Blake Gardner put an exclamation point on the victory with a 33-yard interception return in the waning moments.
Holmes County threatened to break open the game in the first half behind Paul’s brilliance, but the Blue Devils twice lost fumbles, Jaedon Dorsey and James Cancilla stopping possessions with timely recoveries for the Bucks.
When Bozeman was successful on offense it led to points, but the Bucks had only four big plays from scrimmage, not nearly enough to match the visitors.
The first came when Hofmeister bolted 28 yards on a pitch around the left side to Holmes County’s 12. The Bucks stalled at the 4, and Cam Walker kicked a 21-yard field goal 40 seconds before halftime.
When the Blue Devils turned the ball over on downs on their next series, quarterback Taylor Strickland passed 24 yards down the middle to Hunter Kruger. Walker then kicked a 28-yarder with no time showing, Holmes County having roughed him on a prior attempt that came up short.
Bozeman trailed 13-6 at the half, but the Blue Devils regained the upper hand when Paul ran 36 yards to the end zone.
Hofmeister took a screen pass from Strickland 30 yards as the Bucks threatened again. Strickland lofted a 21-yard pass that Tyler Bates made a fine leaping catch while staying in bounds, and Hofmeister finally scored from the 4.
Walker’s kick made it 21-13 with 1:47 left in the third quarter, but Holmes County outgained Bozeman 378 yards to 171 and secured the win with two touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
Martinez and Michael Hull were standouts throughout from their linebacker posts for the Blue Devils. Bozeman middle linebacker Curtis Earnest was outstanding in defeat for the Bucks.
Martinez also rushed for 91 yards on 13 carries and Ray Powell had 87 on 11 attempts. Hofmeister paced Bozeman with 15 for 69 yards, Strickland passing for 91yards.
Bozeman plays at Chipley this week while Holmes County will host Freeport.
Scoring--Holmes County: Paul 8 run, 36 run, 59 pass from Lee. Martinez 2 run, conversion run. Gardner 33 interception return. Gibson two extra points. Lee extra point. Bozeman: Walker field goal 21 and 28, extra point. Hofmeister 4 run.
Rushing--Holmes County: Paul 17-144, Martinez 13-91, Powell 11-87, Farrow 1-5, Lee 1-1, team 1-(-19). Bozeman: Hofmeister 15-69, Kruger 9-8, Bates 3-6, Green 1-3, Strickland 5-(-6).
Passing--Holmes County: Lee 5-9-0-59. Bozeman: Strickland 5-10-1-91.
Receiving--Holmes County: Paul 2-62, Powell 1-4, Strickland 1-3, Martinez 1-0. Bozeman: Hofmeister 2-35, Bates 2-32, Kruger 1-24.