ST. JOHNS - With the sting still fresh from an October 23 game winning field goal (30-27) to hand the Oakleaf Knights their last defeat of the regular season, the Knights loaded up and headed back to …
ST. JOHNS - With the sting still fresh from an October 23 game winning field goal (30-27) to hand the Oakleaf Knights their last defeat of the regular season, the Knights loaded up and headed back to the Bartram Trail High School Bear Den for a second shot to extend their post season.
From a simple bus ride across the St. John’s river, nothing would go right for the Knights all evening as Bartram Trail dethrottled the high-octane Knights’ offense to the tune of a 51-7 loss to end the season.
“We were behind two accidents and got here an hour after we wanted, then it started raining during warm ups,” said Oakleaf Head Coach Frank Garis. “I think we just rode the emotional wave too much instead of calming down and making plays. Once adversity struck, it was like a tidal wave.”
The Knights had a chance to draw first blood starting on their 20 yard line, but a third down strip sack of quarterback Walter Simmons turned into seven quick points for the Bears.
On the next Oakleaf series, Garis, facing a fourth and one, pulled the trigger and attempted to make the first down only to have the Bears’ defensive discipline, first, not get pulled offsides, and, second, the offense not able to move the aforementioned one yard.
“We had everything we like on that play. It just didn’t work out the way we wanted it to,” said Garis.”We’re always going to play aggressive.”
From the 30, Bartram Trail used four plays capped with Bear senior quarterback Santino Marucci going 17 yards, quickly putting the Knights down 14-0. “Look- that play put us down 14-0, I get it. But we are who we are,” said Garis. “We have to make splash plays and feed off that momentum.”
All night, Bear’s kicker David Kemp, who put the nail in the coffin of the previous Bears win with a 54 yarder, would not miss any attempt, and unpenalized kickoffs went out the back of the endzone every time, denying any Knight return.
From the 20, the Knights tried to get the momentum train out of the station. Just as running back Devin Outlaw pounded the rock, and Terrance Anthony woke up the hands to get the team moving downfield, Simmons was again strip-sacked at 6:25.
From Oakleaf’s 42, Bartram would have their drive stalled by an awakening Knight Defense, and settle for a field goal.
“We finally calmed down, but it was already 17-0 at that point,” said Garis. “We just have to make the adjustments faster. We have to be ready to go sooner.”
Things did settle in and both teams swapped punts to close the first quarter.
On the second quarter opening drive, Oakleaf overcame a penalty on first and 21 to keep the drive alive. From 24 yards out, Simmons found Terrance Anthony in the corner, heavily covered by a Bears defender, but needed to make something happen. Anthony went up, brought the ball down with one hand, and cradled it in to get the Knights on the board at 9:28, 17-7.
After trading punts, Bartram drove 79 yards, capped by a Marucci 16 yard keeper up the middle to go up 24-7. Oakleaf, looking for some magic going into the half, drove from their 20 to the 40, and faced a fourth down with under a minute to play. The Knights attempted a fourth and four fake punt which was read perfectly by the Bears. Taking over with :21 seconds, the Bears went deep, but this time the Knight’s defense were all over it. As Larry Smith went up for the ball, it went right through his hands and into the Bears for a 31-7 lead.
With the Knights kicking to start the 3rd quarter, Garris called up an onside kick which looked perfectly executed, until a penalty flag said otherwise. The Knights didn’t let the ball travel 10 yards before touching it. Bartram’s AJ Jones didn’t do anything the alleviate the sting as he used a single play to go paydirt from mid-field, 38-7. After an Oakleaf failed drive and punt, the Knight defense held their own to limit Bartram to a 44 yard field goal, 41-7. On the return drive, Simmons was picked off which led to another Bartram field goal, this time from 43 yards, 44-7. Drew Ammon came in for Simmons and was baptized by fire as his first pass was picked off. The Bears took the turnover in to finish the night 51-7.
“We just came out flat on both sides of the ball and that’s on me,” said Garis. “That’s my fault. The kids fought their tails off. They gave us everything we asked from them. It’s not the result we wanted”