TALLAHASSEE – Oakleaf High rode the legs of senior running back Keshawn King into the lairs of many a state-ranked powerhouse end zones, but a 250 yard, four touchdown effort was not enough to …
TALLAHASSEE – Oakleaf High rode the legs of senior running back Keshawn King into the lairs of many a state-ranked powerhouse end zones, but a 250 yard, four touchdown effort was not enough to upend a toe-to-toe heavyweight fight with a Tallahassee Lincoln team bent on answering every bell before winning their region 1-7A playoff opener 38-31 after three overtimes and nearly three hours of play Thursday night in Tallahassee’s Gene Cox Stadium.
“I am extremely proud of the 2018 Oakleaf football team,” said Oakleaf first year coach Frank Garis. “The program will be forever grateful to our senior class.”
Oakleaf, by playoff points, was declared eligible for the region 1-7A playoffs’ top eight spot; at number six, with a 5-5 overall record filled with losses to state powerhouses Trinity Christian, Raines, Glades Central and district foe Gainesville Buchholz.
With that, the Knights entered Gene Cox Stadium with a plethora of chances to prove their mettle when it really counted only to be thwarted in the third overtime by a deflected pass and interception that was inches from the turf.
“He (Oakleaf quarterback Walter Simmons) made the right read on that play except that their defensive end stood up and hit the ball,” said Oakleaf coach Frank Garis.
Behind a Herculian effort at linebacker from Jordan Randall, who was in for injured middle linebacker Dexter Moore, the Knights opened the game with a defensive stop on the Trojans first offensive series that moved from the Trojan 19 to midfield behind the 1-2 punch of quarterback Chris Beard and tailback Caleb Matthews.
Oakleaf stalled the drive at midfield and forced punt to start at the Knights’ 37 yard line.
From the outset, King was battered on his first three snaps, but Simmons found wideout Terrance Anthony on a post pass that got 16 yards to the Lincoln 18 yard line.
A second pass to Anthony in the end zone got a penalty flag before King bashed twice from the seven behind fullback Adrian Grey and center Seger McKisick to put Oakleaf quickly on the board, 6-0 with 6:14 left in the first quarter.
Matthews would nearly equal the score on the ensuing kickoff with his catch at the three getting to midfield to set the Trojans up with half the field.
A first down pass to wideout Sage Ennis over defensive back K.J. Henry-Duncan looked like a gamebreaker but Ennis was flagged for offensive pass interference and a loss of 15 yards for the Trojan.
Stuck with a third and 35 situation, Beard got snared by Oakleaf defensive end Chantz Williams to force a second punt for Lincoln with the Knights’ building a momentum mountain.
After both teams failed to move the ball on offense, Simmons, who finished with 112 yards on a dismal 10 of 26 passes, got hit with an interception at the Oakleaf 34 to set up a Lincoln score on a nine yard pass play to Ennis to tie the game at 7-7 at 6:12 to the half.
Oakleaf jumped on their next drive with wideout Antonio Marshall getting a 12 yard pass to the Oakleaf 37 and King blasting for 13 to midfield.
A quarterback draw by Simmons and a 12 yard pass to tight end Alexander Warner put King in position for a 31 yard sprint down the right sideline to put Oakleaf up 14-7 with 4:06 left in the half.
Lincoln stalled at their own 38, but executed a fake punt pass that kept the Trojans on the field at the Oakleaf 25 that wound up a score two downs later.
Simmons misfired on several passes on the next drive, but Oakleaf’s defense got a boost with a wide right field goal attempt by Lincoln as the half ended.
With the ball first in the second half, King fumbled away on this third carry to put Lincoln at midfield, but a defensive stack by Randall forced a punt. Lincoln coach Quinn Gray called for a second fake punt, but Williams smothered the punter to put Oakleaf at midfield.
A fake to King freed Simmons for a 25 yard scamper to the Trojan where King powered to the 12, but kicker Braden Ammon was short on his field goal attempt.
Oakleaf nosetackle Tayari Otis crushed a third down run on third and two to force a Trojan punt.
From the Oakleaf 30, Simmons hit wideout Sean Washington with a pass that got nixed by a holding flag. A missed slant pass to Anthony forced a punt that Ammon made good on his missed field goal with a perfectly thrown pass to Jamaric Bonner that got Oakleaf a first down at midfield.
From there, the Knights proved their own worst nightmare with a chop block and two missed passes giving Lincoln possession at their own 42.
Two plays were needed for Lincoln to hit paydirt as Beard hit a post pattern for 50 yards and a 21-14 Lincoln lead.
Starting at the Oakleaf 31 after the kickoff, the Knights pushed King up front with one snap getting 14 yards and a Simmons to Anthony pass getting another 28 to the Trojan 22. Grey popped through the Lincoln defense for 12 yards to the 12 before King bounced off a pileup to put the ball at the two yard line before scoring to tie the game at 21-21 with 15 seconds on the clock in the third period.
As the fourth period started, Lincoln shanked a punt to put Oakleaf at their own 40, but, again, a hold flag pushed the Knights backward at an inopportune time. Ammon’s punt from the 43 landed at the Trojan five yard line as the Knights were looking for a break.
At this point, Randall started to assert his prowess on the Lincoln offense with three stops and a sack forcing a punt after Lincoln chewed up four minutes of clock before punting from the 47.
Simmons found Anthony on the Lincoln sideline for a 50 yard pass to the Trojan 11, but the play was ruled out of bounds. Oakleaf kept punching back with Garis sending King into the meat of the Lincoln defense, but the drive stalled at the Trojan 30.
Lincoln went air on their drive with three completions to the 35 before Oakleaf defensive back Zech Nesby stole a pass with nine seconds on the clock to put the game into overtime.
As the overtime sessions opened, both teams scored touchdowns first; with King diving over from two yards out before Ammons hit a field goal to up the score to 31-28. Lincoln answered with their own field goal; 31-31, to bring on a third overtime stanza.
Down 38-31, King powered to the three yard line before Simmons’ throw was deflected and then intercepted by linebacker Alexander Thomas who dove and cradled the ball inches from the turf to end the game.