Holy Moses! Oakleaf wins overtime thriller

By Randy Lefko Sports Editor
Posted 10/19/22

OAKLEAF - A one yard plunge; maybe a one foot plunge, by Oakleaf Junior High linebacker turned fullback Cornell Moses fueled a 20-14 overtime win over Lakeside Junior High in the Northeast Florida …

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Holy Moses! Oakleaf wins overtime thriller


OAKLEAF - A one yard plunge; maybe a one foot plunge, by Oakleaf Junior High linebacker turned fullback Cornell Moses fueled a 20-14 overtime win over Lakeside Junior High in the Northeast Florida Athletic Conference semifinal, Oakleaf’s win puts the Yellow Jackets in the championship game against Baker County on Tues., Oct. 18.

Oakleaf is now 6-1, Baker County unbeaten in seven games. Oakleaf beat Lakeside 18-6 in regular season play.

Moses popped in amongst a line of scrimmage scrum at the goal line in the Yellow Jackets first attempt at the Kansas Tie Breaker (four downs from 10 yards out) with a fourth down and inches plunge to give Oakleaf the 20-14 edge.

On Lakeside’s overtime effort, defensive back Mike Connor intercepted an end zone pass to secure the win.

The win puts Oakleaf head coach Merlin Smith into his fifth championship game with the Yellow Jackets with Baker County a common foe. Smith has played Bradford twice with Baker County getting a second look this year.

From the opening kickoff, Oakleaf looked to make things difficult for Smith with a fumbled snap and penalties creating a fourth and 40 for the Yellow Jacket offense that turned the ball over the Lakeside near midfield with 5:45 left in the first period.

Oakleaf returned the favor taking over on downs at their own 20 late in the first quarter.

Lakeside scored the only touchdown of the half off a blocked punt by Allen Tacon early in the second quarter with both teams’ defenses pounding the line of scrimmage. Easton Isbell, on the edge of the Gators’ coverage, snared the high-bouncing ball and rumbled to paydirt to put Lakeside on the scoreboard with 12 seconds off the second quarter clock.

Now down 6-0, Oakleaf got an 80 yard kickoff return to apparently tie the score, but a penalty flag negated the effort by returnman Mike Connor and the half ended at 6-0.

Lakeside got an interception just before the half from Antonio Watkins.

Just before the half, Oakleaf’s Zion Gibson intercepted a Eric Gentry pass with 18 seconds on the clock to give Oakleaf one final shot in the end zone.

In the third, Oakleaf scored twice behind strong running from Josiah Isaac and Mike Conner with Connor putting Oakleaf up 14-6 with 22 seconds in the third. Connor’s touchdown was his 45th of the season.

Lakeside answered with Watkins taking the ensuing kickoff the distance to apparently tie the game at 14-14 with 5:32 left in the game. There was a flag, though, to negate the score.

Still at 14-6, 20 doubled down for a Lakeside score after a missed tackle on the sideline to tie the game at 14-14.

In a frenzied fourth quarter final five minutes, Oakleaf converted a third and four at midfield to advance to Lakeside’s 20 before Lakeside linebacker Christian Washington picked up an Oakleaf fumble.

Lakeside had 1:22 to move 75 yards to tie the score. The Gators got to midfield with a pass to Griffin Schulz with a minute to go.

Lakeside kept sending running back Washington off tackle, but Oakleaf had eight men at the line of scrimmage as the clock ticked down to 45 seconds.

A sack by Jordan Battles put Lakeside 10 yards back to third and 22 at the Oakleaf 34 with just 35 seconds on the clock.

Lakeside missed a pass to Schulz to set up a final fourth down with 30 seconds left in the game.

A sack by Qasim Swain gave Oakleaf the ball at the Lakeside 31 with 19 seconds, but the Gator defense, Justin Coger, sacked quarterback Savion Williams to put the game into overtime.


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