Bazar's big effort lifts Libertyville past Zion-Benton
At Libertyville, they have their own preferred way of spelling the word "bizarre."
The Wildcats' version is "Bazar," as in Libertyville senior running back Brendan Bazar.
This guy went absolutely nuts Friday night for the Wildcats, who knew very well the importance of their regular-season finale against visiting Zion-Benton on Friday night.
"This is the most motivated bunch of guys I've ever been around," said Bazar, who rushed for an astounding 346 yards on 36 carries with 6 touchdowns in helping lead Libertyville to a 43-20 victory, which makes the Cats playoff eligible with a 5-4 record. "The offensive line blocked their butts off and our defense was awesome."
Bazar got it going early and often for the Cats, who jumped out to a 27-0 lead after the first period.
"It was so important to get on top like that early," continued Bazar. "Zion's a good team and they fought hard and never gave up."
Bazar's first score came just over a minute into the contest when he rumbled for 34 yards to the house and a packed Libertyville crowd could sense that the Cats were possibly smelling the playoffs for a fourth straight year.
Bazar added touchdown runs of 22, 9, and 10 yards while finishing with 156 yards in the first quarter alone.
Zion-Benton, which came close to making the playoffs for the first time since 2003, finished 4-5 overall and 3-4 in the North Suburban.
The Zee-Bees showed some life in the second quarter, scoring 2 touchdowns to cut the deficit to 27-14 at halftime.
Tyler Geiman caught a 2-yard pass from Jerome Crawford. That was followed by a 9-yard fumble return for a touchdown by Rikki Wiley.
But then Bazar picked up where he left off in the third, scoring on a 73-yard dash that gave the Cats some breathing room again at 34-14 with 8:36 left in the third.
"At halftime, we knew nothing was guaranteed and that we needed to come out with the same intensity (in the second half)," said Bazar.
No worries, as he scored his sixth and final touchdown on an 11-yard plunge that made it 40-14 with 6:46 left in the third.
Zion-Benton's Jordan Chisum (19 carries, 100 yards) then scored on 20-yard run to make it 40-20 with 5:25 left in the game.
Senior place-kicker Matt Rudolphi nailed a 37-yard field goal to provide the final scoring with 2:52 left.
"We're not ready to be done yet," Bazar said.
The Libertyville defense was tenacious, with senior Ben Arnold recovering a pair of fumbles and senior Alex Jackson collecting one as well.
Senior Brendan Cook had forced one of those fumbles and had a deflected pass, while sacks were registered by Cook and Jackson.