BARTRAM TRAIL – The first two minutes of the Oakleaf High School football clash on a super soppy turf at district 3-7A foe Bartram Trail High School looked like a Knights’ upset was in the making …
BARTRAM TRAIL – The first two minutes of the Oakleaf High School football clash on a super soppy turf at district 3-7A foe Bartram Trail High School looked like a Knights’ upset was in the making with a fumble recovery leading to a 62 yard touchdown run, but the score was nullified by a flag and the Knights fortunes became misfortunes in a 48-14 loss Friday night.
The loss, coupled with a district loss to unbeaten Fleming Island earlier in the season, all but eliminates an Oakleaf playoff shot in 2017. Fleming Island (7-0, 2-0) is on top of district 3-7A with a showdown on Friday against Bartram Trail (4-2, 2-0) set to determine the district champions. Buchholz (2-4, 0-1), Creekside (5-3, 0-1) and Oakleaf (1-5, 0-2) finish the district lineup.
Oakleaf hosts the 4A-Jacksonville Raines (5-1, third ranked in 4A Vikings on Friday in a non-district clash with Creekside and Buchholz remaining on the Knights’ district slate. 6A-Ocala Vanguard, undefeated at 6-0 and fifth ranked in 6A, is Oakleaf’s season ender at home.
After the opening kickoff with Bartram Trail, Oakleaf quarterback Tre Simmons, victimized throughout the night by inopportune dropped passes, let a snap slip out of his grasp and into the hands of Bartram Trail defender John Amell, but Knight’s safety Tristan Brown, who had a fistful of tackles on the night, scooped up a Bears fumble on the next play to put the Oakleaf offense back on the field.
With tailback Keshawn King’s swift feet somewhat neutralized by the disgustingly unkept field which had pockets of muddied footprints and divots throughout the 100 yards of playing field, Oakleaf’s offensive line, centered by senior Mitch Romig and bookended by gigantic tackles Allen Adams and Jalen Rivers; both 6-5 and over 300 pounds, seemed able to negotiate through the muck to keep King moving forward. From the Oakleaf 47, King blasted behind Adams for 15, but slid out on the next handoff before racing 62 yards off a screen pass to paydirt.
A penalty flag simmered the Oakleaf sideline.
Two errant passes forced a punt back at the 47.
Bartram Trail quarterback Joey Gatewood entered the lineup, but Brown was on his outside game and upended a sideline pass attempt to Bears wideout Xavier Hutchinson.
On third and seven, Gatewood dance his way to a first down at the Bears 44 before Bears tailback Devin Ellison took a direct straight route to the end zone from the Oakleaf 29 to put the game at 6-0. Oakleaf’s defense crushed the point after kick with linebacker Kenneth Davis sticking his facemask on the kick to sling the ball in reverse.
Oakleaf got a roughing the punter call near midfield that led to two King runs to the 30 and a leaping, two-handed snare of a pass from wideout Jakari Williams for a score from the Bears 24 that put Oakleaf up 7-6 with a good PAT kick with 2:09 in the first quarter.
A short kickoff put Bartram Trail at their own 33 with Ellison finding a seam and sprinting 56 yards to put the Bears up 13-7 with 1:42 still in the first quarter.
Bartram Trail was intent on not letting King get a shot at a kickoff return and pooched their kick to the Oakleaf 45 where Simmons had two passes dropped to foil the prime field start.
Ellison again roughed up the Knights’ defense with a second and seven run for 18 yards to the Oakleaf 45 leading to a Gatewood scramble and stretch touchdown from eight yards out putting the score at 20-8 with 10:02 to halftime.
Oakleaf’s offense went nowhere on the ensuing drive and a punt put Bartram Trail at midfield where the Bears second quarterback, Riley Smith, combined with tailback Griffin Helm on a double pass scoring throw to score the game 27-7.
Oakleaf attempted on unbalanced offensive line with Adams and Rivers side by side to thwart the Bears defensive penetration and the move seemed to work until a fumbled snap stopped Oakleaf at the Bears 38 yard line. Two plays later, Gatewood scored again to put the game at 34-7 with 4:02 to halftime.
Oakleaf had a final opportunity before the half when Bartram Trail muffed a punt and Oakleaf recovered near midfield with 2:10 to go. A sack of Simmons and a dropped pass ended the drive in four plays.
In the third quarter, Gatewood scored again to put Bartram Trail up 41-7, but King answered with a 63 yard scoring blast to put the game at 41-14.
Oakleaf continued to give King the ball despite Bartram Trail’s defense having his number clearly imprinted on their brains and the Bears scored the final touchdown with 11:05 left in the game.