GREEN COVE SPRINGS- Football against Clay High has always promised hard-nosed football. Football at Clay High is one step tougher. Football against Clay High when Clay gets behind and rallies is …
GREEN COVE SPRINGS- Football against Clay High has always promised hard-nosed football. Football at Clay High is one step tougher. Football against Clay High when Clay gets behind and rallies is really tough to beat.
For Oakleaf High School, the haunts of Blue Devil football nearly derailed a magnificent start of one of the highlight games of the first half of 2021, but the Knights were able to pull enough of their own ghosts of past football to steal a 33-27 non-district win Friday night amidst the spectacular fanfare at Clay High School.
“We play a difficult schedule like this to be battle tested heading into district play. We do this to condition our players to be ready for big environments like tonight so we are ready for anything,” said Oakleaf High coach Frank Garis, who has twice gotten the best of Clay High coach Kyle Kennard, a former Oakleaf High defensive coach who helped to build the 2014 defense that finished unbeaten in regular season play and earned a region final spot under then coach Derek Chipoletti.
Last year, Garis upended Kennards’ attempt at an unbeaten season in his first year as Clay coach with a final game upset.
In Friday’s game, Oakleaf started the game sloppy as running back Mike Brannon fumbled on the first series which was recovered by Clay defensive end Blake Thompson to give the Blue Devils prime field position at the Oakleaf 23 yard line. Clay would get as close as the eight yard line but a missed field goal kept the game scoreless (The kicking game for both teams would be a theme all night). The Oakleaf mistakes continued on their next drive as quarterback Drew Ammon was intercepted by Blue Devil cornerback Jarvis Lee to give Clay possession at their own 41 yard line. Unfortunately for the Blue Devils, running back Brandon Combs fumbled the ball back to the Knights midway through the first quarter. Oakleaf would capitalize on the turnover later in the drive on a three yard touchdown run by Isaiah Shevchook with just over two minutes left in the first quarter for a 7-0 lead.
Clay responded with a near 80 yard touchdown pass that just missed the fingertips of wide receiver D’Maurion Fraizer. The miss would prove costly as quarterback Billy Mobley threw a pick six to Oakleaf’s Drake Stubbs and suddenly Oakleaf was ahead 14-0 despite having two first quarter turnovers.
The Blue Devils responded with an 80 yard drive that included a fourth down and 16 quarterback run by Mobley to the six yard line. Two plays later Mobley would find wide receiver Brandon Peavy and Clay cut the Oakleaf lead in half at 14-7 with nine minutes left in the second quarter.
The Clay defense would get a fourth down stop at the Oakleaf 44 yard line to help set the Blue Devil offense once again in prime scoring position. Mobley would make another long run of 15 yards to the Knights 19 yard line and then two plays later he would find Peavy again on the same play for a touchdown. Unfortunately, the extra point was wide left and Oakleaf held a 14-13 lead.
The Blue Devils would get the ball back after another fourth down stop, this time at their 44 yard line. Mobley would have yet another long run (his third of the half) of 24 yards to the Knights 37 yard line. He would then find a diving Frazier for a spectacular catch in double coverage to put the Blue Devils ahead. They would also score on the two point conversion to take a 21-14 lead with 1:48 left before half and seemingly seizing all the momentum.
Oakleaf wasn’t going down that easy. Running back Mike Brannon would carry the load with a 30 yard run to the Clay 45 yard line along with a Blue Devil personal foul penalty giving the Knights the ball at the Clay 30 yard line. Brannon would score on a 30 yard run but the snap on the extra point was high and Oakleaf was unable to run for the two point conversion and Clay would take a 21-20 halftime lead.
“We had to adjust with their running back out and with four freshman starting on defense for us it was difficult to contain the quarterback runs” said Garis. “We adjusted some things defensively at halftime that helped us in the second half.”
The Oakleaf defense would force a punt from Clay giving the offense the ball at their own 39 yard line. The Knights would waste little time as quarterback Drew Ammon found Shevchook again for a 24 yard touchdown pass to regain the lead 27-21 with 8:00 left in the third quarter.
On Clay’s ensuing possession, they found themselves at their own 10 yard line after an intentional grounding penalty by quarterback Billy Mobley. The Blue Devils then faced a fourth down and one from their own 29 yard line. Mobley was able to hard count and draw the defense offside for the first down. Backup quarterback Jayden Jenkins then took over with some nifty runs including a fourth down run to the Oakleaf 25 yard line. The Knights defense held on and forced an incomplete pass on the next 4th down to take over, although Clay took nearly eight minutes off the game clock giving their defense a much needed rest. The break was crucial as Oakleaf was unable to move the ball and punted after three plays. Jarvis Lee would get a 25 yard punt return to the Oakleaf 44 yard line setting up the offense on a short field. Three plays later Mobley would find Peavy again for a 29 yard touchdown pass tying the game at 27-27. Unfortunately the Blue Devils missed another extra point was as both teams struggled all night in the kicking game.
The Knights responded with and 80 yard drive that was sparked by an early pass interference penalty on the first play. From there Mike Brannon and Isaiah Shevchook led the ground game for the Knights allowing them to also control the clock. On third down from the two yard line Ammon found Shevchook for a touchdown with just under two minutes remaining. Yet another extra point was missed giving Clay some hope down 33-27. However, the Oakleaf defense held firm as Clay was able to get to near midfield with less than a minute left but a sack on 3rd down and an interception on 4th down by James “stay out of my” Kitchen sealed a big win for the Knights heading into four straight district matchups starting at Sandlewood next week.
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