It was over as quickly as it began.
Northview recovered a Liberty County fumble on the game's opening kickoff and never looked back, routing the Bulldogs, 48-14, during the Class 1A state semifinals Friday night at Bulldog Field.
The win earns the Chiefs their first trip to the state championship game. Northview will face undefeated, No. 1-ranked Trenton at 6 p.m. next Friday at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando.
"It's kind of surreal right now," Northview coach Sid Wheatley said. "We've (came) so close last year, and for these guys to persevere and be so close and fight through it to get back to that same point ... You know, I really sensed before the game that they were ready, and they really delivered tonight. There was no denying them."
The Chiefs' defense was dominant, holding the Bulldogs to 97 yards as Northview jumped out to a 41-0 lead. It wasn't until Wheatley began subbing in backups that Liberty County was able to get on the board.
More importantly, the Chiefs played error-free football. No fumbles, no interceptions, no bad penalties.
"We preached it all week about ball security and being very physical," Wheatley said. "We did both of those things tonight, and I really felt like if we finished the game with zero turnovers we would win this game."
After Jeffrey Taylor recovered a fumble on the opening kickoff, Northview's offense went to work. Brannon Freeman capped a quick 38-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown run.
"It was huge," Wheatley said of the fumble recovery. "It was huge to grab momentum right now and go down and score."
It only got uglier from there.
Northview scored on three of its next four first-half possessions, capped by a 1-yard LaMikal Kyles touchdown run, a 12-yard run from Freeman and a 32-yard run from Kyles to take a 28-0 halftime lead.
But after squandering a late lead against Chipley during the state semifinals in 2011, Wheatley was not going to allow his team to let up.
"Keep your foot on the pedal," Wheatley told his team at the half. "Do not relax, do not be satisfied."
The Chiefs scored twice more in the third quarter -- once on a 13-yard run from LaDarius Thomas and once on a 51-yard scamper by Freeman -- to put the game away.
Liberty County got a 50-yard run from Alex Marlowe and a 13-yard touchdown pass from Dustin Watson to Micah McCaskill after the game was out of reach.
Neiko Robinson, who also had an interception in the game, scored Northview's final touchdown on a 15-yard run.
Freeman and Kyles were unstoppable, rushing for 138 and 122 yards, respectively.
Vaughan completed his first five passes and finished the game 5-of-8 for 73 yards. He also ran for 23 yards.
Thomas added 33 yards on the ground, and Robinson had 45.
The Chiefs finished the night with 367 rushing yards on 44 attempts.
"Brannon Freeman is tough as nails, catches the football, runs the football, he does everything for you," Wheatley said. "LaMikal Kyles has been fantastic for a month and a half. He's running like a man, and he's hard to defend."
As the final seconds ran off the clock, the Chiefs and their fans began celebrating the school's first trip to the state final.
The Chiefs had lost two straight state semifinal games entering Friday's contest.
"We're so excited," Wheatley said. "And, man, these kids deserve it. They put in the effort, they put in the time, and they're deserving of this moment."
After starting the season with a goal of making the trip to Orlando, Wheatley said there's no reason his team can't take the final step.
"We've made it to the game that we want to get to," Wheatley said. "Now, we may as well go out and win the thing."
At Liberty County
NORTHVIEW 48, LIBERTY COUNTY 14
Northview...14 14 13 7 -- 48
Liberty County...0 0 7 7 -- 14
NHS -- Brannon Freeman 2 run (Kevin Vaughan kick) 10:23
NHS -- LaMikal Kyles 1 run (Vaughan kick) 5:20
NHS -- Freeman 12 run (Vaughan kick) 9:40
NHS -- Kyles 32 run (Vaughan kick) 4:05
NHS -- LaDarius Thomas 13 run (kick fail) 7:26
NHS -- Freeman 51 run (Vaughan kick) 1:55
LCHS -- Alex Marlowe 50 run (Marco Espinoza-Solis) 0:05.4
LCHS -- Michah McCaskill 13 pass from Dustin Watson (Espinoza-Solis kick) 4:35