CHIPLEY — The Chipley Tigers’ football season began with a nail-biter Friday when the Tigers hosted the Liberty County Bulldogs at the Philip Rountree Stadium in Chipley.
The Tigers would win the Kickoff Classic 22-16, and win in a spectacular fashion — junior tight end Bradley Hall snatched up a Bulldogs fumble and returned it 41 yards to score with only 20 seconds left to play in the game.
The Tigers had held a 16-8 lead going into the final minutes of play, and the Chipley defense even held off the Bulldogs for four downs from inside the 10. But when the Tigers took over on downs, they were unable to gain back any yardage, and a risky decision to go for it on 4th and long from inside their own 10 yard mark backfired.
The second time the Bulldogs got control of the ball at 1st and goal, they were more determined and after three tries William Hayes found the end zone. A.J. Palmberg’s PAT made it 16-16 with only 1:38 remaining and it looked like the Classic was going to end in a tie.
On the next drive, the Tigers managed 17 yards but ended up turning over the ball on downs at their own 41 with 26 seconds left in the game.
A fumbled Liberty County snap on the next play was snapped up by Hall, who had a clear path to the end zone.
The Bulldogs drew first blood at 6:23 in the first quarter when Jordan Chaney scored, then added a PAT for good measure, but the Tigers answered when Kobe McCrary scored a touchdown of his own. Wyatt Brock’s PAT tied the game up 8-8.
In the third quarter, McCrary ran it in on a sweep from the 5-yard mark, and added two with a PAT to put the Tigers up 16-8.
Chipley travels to Vernon Friday night to take on the Yellow Jackets for their season opener. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.