Bulldogs can’t stop Cavs in playoffsPublished 12:42am Saturday, November 10, 2012
In a thrilling testament to how far Suffolk football has come, Lakeland and visiting King’s Fork duked it out until the Cavaliers scored with 31 seconds left to win 16-15 in the first round of the Division 5 state playoffs Friday night.
“Could the game have gone any better than what the build up was?” King’s Fork head coach Joe Jones said. “Two teams, played great defense, one point difference. Can’t ask for more.”
In the first half, King’s Fork confounded the Lakeland defense with their execution of the triple option, giving senior slotback Charles Clark and junior quarterback Uriah Adams many significant gains. Adams ran the ball in from two yards out to make it 7-0 with 1:59 to go in the first quarter.
Lakeland got in field goal range, but junior kicker Austin Brown missed wide left. The Bulldogs’ next drive was ended when Cavaliers freshman linebacker Jaquan Yulee intercepted Adams, but Lakeland ended up giving the ball up on downs.
Shortly before halftime, a fumble by Adams gave the Cavaliers another chance, but they could not capitalize.
The first three minutes of the second half were dramatic as King’s Fork fumbled the ball on the first play from scrimmage and Lakeland senior linebacker Demonte Tillery returned it to the Bulldogs’ 5-yard line. Lakeland’s attempt to score was undone by a bad snap that pushed them back to the 30-yard line.
They punted, pinning King’s Fork on their own 2-yard line, then tackled Adams in the end zone for a safety.
After the kickoff, Lakeland started at the King’s Fork 43-yard line. A 33-yard run by senior running back Raekwon Johnson and a 13-yard reception by senior wide receiver Antonio Jefferson set up Johnson’s 8-yard scoring run. Lakeland suddenly led 9-7 with 7:50 remaining in the third quarter.
“They made good adjustments defensively and had us kind of stopped in our tracks here the second half,” Jones said. “And we got some things going and what a last drive to take it down the field.”
With 5:31 left in the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs drove down the field, fueled by huge receptions from senior wide receiver Davon Grayson, a Lakeland penalty, and a key 10-yard run by Clark. Freshman fullback Deshaun Wethington darted around defenders and ran it in from nine yards out. Adams rushed for the two-point conversion, and King’s Fork led 15-9 with 1:07 left in the game.
On the ensuing kickoff, Jefferson received the ball and made it to the King’s Fork 44-yard line with 58 seconds remaining.
“Jefferson, on the return, when that ball scooted to him, man, I saw a gap, and I was like, ‘Oh, please,’ because we had a couple new guys in on kickoff, that because of some injuries had to go in, but they got him down,” Jones said.
Lakeland senior quarterback Zach Super hit Jefferson across the middle for a 13-yard gain. Cavaliers head coach Glenwood Ferebee pulled senior wideout Michael Piersawl to the sideline and told him to fake like he was going to run inside and then break for the end zone.
“And it worked perfectly,” Piersawl said. “I did exactly what Coach told me, and we got results.”
Super found Piersawl behind the defense for a 31-yard touchdown with 31 seconds remaining, and the home crowd went wild.
“I was calm,” Super said. “Any of my teammates can tell you that, I was relaxed. I was like, ‘You know, guys, we’re going to win the game. We’re fine.’”
The Bulldogs took a time out to ice Austin Brown.
“I didn’t really think too much about it because I knew if it would have got to my head, I probably would have messed up somehow,” Brown said.
He put through the deciding point, and a last gasp effort by King’s Fork fell short.
“Record aside, losing aside, man, I’m going to miss these seniors,” Jones said. “Not because of the wins, but because of the character and the desire and the passion they played with.”
“We poured our hearts out, out there,” Grayson said. “All I can say is I’m proud of my team, I’m proud of how far we’ve come in the last four years. Those guys have my heart forever. Forever.”
Coach Ferebee, too, was proud of his team.
“We had a whole lot of mistakes again tonight when we could have just caved in, and we finished the football game,” he said.
“We lost Craig Taylor to a torn MCL, so now we have to plug somebody else in and keep moving,” he said. “We’ve been fighting adversity all year with injuries and mistakes and penalties and things like that, but we’re still here.”
They will face undefeated Lake Taylor next week, which defeated Maury last night, 51-0.
“Now, it’s about Suffolk,” Ferebee said. “We’re representing Suffolk and that’s what we’re going to try to do. We’re not just playing for ourself now. We’re playing for a whole city.”