Tigers bite KF in double-OT

Published 12:27 am Saturday, November 3, 2012

King’s Fork’s Deshaun Wethington scores on a touchdown run during an almost-upset game at Oscar Smith on Friday night. The Bulldogs lost in the second overtime period against the reigning state champions. (Danny Haymond photo)


By Matthew Hatfield


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Fans at Beard-DeLong-Easley Field in Chesapeake witnessed an instant classic as the King’s Fork Bulldogs took on the Oscar Smith Tigers on Friday.

The Bulldogs led the defending Group AAA Division 6 State Champion Tigers 20-6 late in the third quarter, and again 28-21 with under a minute to go in regulation, but ultimately saw their historic upset bid fall just short, 42-35 in double-overtime.

Oscar Smith came into the game having won 54 consecutive Southeastern District games; the team has won the league title every year since 2004.

King’s Fork concludes its regular season with a 7-3 overall record, and while missing the chance of pulling off one of the biggest stunners in the state and their program’s history will sting for a while, they still enter the postseason for the first time in school history.

“The effort was unbelievable,” King’s Fork head football coach Joe Jones said. “We played a great football team and had them on the ropes. We were 17 seconds away from clinching it and a couple plays away. These guys keep coming back, keep coming back and are resilient. These guys played their hearts out.”

“We said they’re the barometer we judge our program by, and we feel we’re right there equal with them. Don’t get me wrong — it’s tough losing it, and it don’t get any easier. We’ve got to look at the positive and build on this for next week going into the playoffs.”

After falling behind 7-0 to Oscar Smith with 45 seconds to go in the first quarter, King’s Fork responded as senior linebacker TC Livingston recovered a fumble at the Oscar Smith 27-yard line. Junior quarterback Uriah Adams completed a 27-yard touchdown pass to East Carolina commit Davon Grayson. The extra point was no good, and the Tigers clung to a 7-6 lead until the Bulldogs got the ball back midway through the second quarter. Adams converted a pair of third down runs with the drive ending on freshman Deshaun Wethington’s three-yard touchdown run.

King’s Fork took a 12-7 lead into the locker room at halftime and added to it when the Tigers muffed a punt that defensive back Tarrell Lassiter alertly recovered. Lassiter, a senior, was one of the defensive leaders on the night with 10 total tackles. The Bulldogs capitalized on the opportunity to push their lead to 20-7 with 1:20 remaining on Adams’ one-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-goal.

It took Oscar Smith only 3:37 to come roaring back and grab the lead 21-20 early in the fourth period. King’s Fork went three-and-out on its next offensive possession, but the Bulldogs got the ball back when Virginia Tech commit and defensive back Charles Clark made a big hit on third down to prevent a pass completion.

Clark came through in an enormous way offensively as well, breaking off a 34-yard touchdown run on third and 10, followed by Wethington’s successful two-point conversion run to give the Bulldogs a 28-21 lead with 5:34 left to play.

It looked like the upset might be complete when King’s Fork junior defensive back JaQuon Diggs intercepted an Oscar Smith pass, but the Bulldogs then punted on fourth and four at the Oscar Smith 39-yard line at the 2:23 mark.

Oscar Smith then drove 93 yards in less than three minutes to force overtime, converting two third downs and a fourth down on the pivotal series.

In the first overtime, Adams scored on a two-yard run on third and goal. Oscar Smith scored on its second offensive play in overtime. The Tigers found the end zone again during the second overtime session to break the 35-all tie. King’s Fork was able to complete a pass on fourth down as it was broken up in the end zone, intended for Grayson.

Grayson had one of the best games of his career for the Bulldogs, finishing with 11 receptions for 127 yards. Eight of those catches came in the first half. Adams finished 13 of 24 passing for 141 yards and a touchdown pass to go with two rushing scores. Wethington had 79 yards rushing on 24 attempts. The Bulldogs out-gained Oscar Smith 243-238 on the evening, including 153-109 in the first half.

“It’s going to be tough over the weekend,” Jones admitted. “Now our jobs as coaches will be to get them back up and re-focus them on Monday for whoever we’re playing in the playoffs.”

Although some Eastern Region games still have to be played on Saturday before postseason calculations are fully tabulated, expectations are that the Bulldogs will open up in the Division 5 regional quarterfinals against city rival Lakeland.