JACKSONVILLE - In the “Backyard” at Robert E. Lee High School, the Fleming Island High Golden Eagle “lights-out” defense would lead the way with a pick-6 interception by Eugene Oglesby, a …
JACKSONVILLE - In the “Backyard” at Robert E. Lee High School, the Fleming Island High Golden Eagle “lights-out” defense would lead the way with a pick-6 interception by Eugene Oglesby, a fumble recovery for touchdown by Jack Surgeoner and a pair of sacks each from Jackson Bull and Jake Libretto to score a 31-26 upset victory over the Generals Friday night in their region 1-7A quarterfinal, “They can play football with these guys if they just put their mind to it,” said Fleming Island coach Damenyum Springs, who now heads to Orlando for their region semifinal against Edgewater High (9-3) and a 31-21 winner of Gainesville Buchholz in that region quarterfinal. Edgewater, who turned a 1-10 season last year to a 9-2 playoff season, has a big play offense led by quarterback R.J. Harvey who hit for two touchdowns; one a 65-yarder, on 176 passing yards plus ran for 49 yards.
Against Lee, with the won coin toss, Fleming Island deferred the ball to the second half so they could showcase the defense.
On offense Fleming Island began their paced, steady offensive flow led by senior quarterback Brian Brown, who finished with 13 of 16 passes for 81 yards, but, more importantly, no interceptions.
“I was just playing my roll, I wasn’t trying to do anything much more” said Brown.
The Eagles used a short pass game and steady runs to march 57 yards capped off with running back Dewayne McBride scoring from 10 yards out.
On the ensuing offensive drive, the Generals made it down to the Fleming 20-yard line, only to get stuffed by the brick wall Golden Eagle defense, turning the ball over on downs to end the first quarter.
Starting deep in their own end of the field, the Eagle offense started their steady cadence of pass and run, taking nine plays to get the ball down the Lee 29 where kicker Noah Hamlet put the Golden Eagles up 10-0 in the stunned stadium.
Down 10-0 with 7:26 until the half, the Generals used two runs and a 50-yard pass to go 75 yards and bring the score to 10-7.
On the kick off, Golden Eagle kick returner Glenn Rodgers looked to field the short, high kick and had the ball bounce off his shoulder pad, kick out and get recovered by the Generals. On the next play, Lee senior quarterback Derrick Jones found wide out Jurial Caldwell wide open in the end zone to go ahead 10-14.
“Just keep our heads about us,” said Brown, commenting on the halftime locker atmosphere after the quick two-score strike by Lee. “We had 24 minutes for the rest of our lives, that’s it. I kept telling everybody play it like it’s your last 24.”
In the fourth quarter, with the score still locked at 14-10, Fleming Island took a Lee punt to start another march for the end zone at 11:49. Using 10 plays and burning over six minutes off the clock, Brown found tight end Nick Forendo in the end zone for a short five-yard touchdown pass to go back up 17-14.
On the next Lee drive, first and 10 at the Fleming 33, Jackson Bull and Josh Harris converged on Jones, looking for a sack. As Bull reached around to tackle Jones, the ball popped out. A quick acting Jack Surgeoner scooped up the ball for a 68-yard fumble recovery touchdown.
“For a second, I didn’t realize it was a fumble,” Surgeoner said. “I couldn’t believe it was right there.”
With the 24-14 lead with 3:56 left in the game, the momentum shift to Fleming Island continued to build stronger. All that ended 33 seconds later as Jones once again did his best Harry Houdini impression, escaped from several defenders and looked to be ready to take off running once again, only to set his feet and launch a 34-yard toss to Teddy Ingram who was left all alone when Jones looked to be running, closing the score to 24-20.
Fleming Island would take the kickoff 14 yards and send the tactful offense back out. Going three and out, the Ryan Smenda punt would pin the Lee offense all the way back to the 35-yard line with 2:13 left in the game. After an incomplete pass, Jones tossed a deep ball out to his receive who was covered by two defenders. The ball was tipped and Eugene Oglesby came down with it. It was off to the races as Oglesby dodged several Generals on his way to the end zone and another Golden Eagle defensive score, 31-20.
With 1:20 left to play, the Generals used three passes and another scramble by Jones to score again. The point after attempt was no good when the ball sailed over the holder’s head and was recovered by Fleming Island, 31-26. Lee attempted an on-sides kick that was recovered by Ferendo.