FLEMING ISLAND - Oakleaf High football stamped out an early top spot in their supercharged district lineup with a 20-7 first half lead holding to a 26-20 upset of previously unbeaten Fleming Island High Friday night in a packed Fleming Island High stadium. Highlights for the game included two interceptions; one a pick six score, for wide receiver turned defensive back Taylor Bradshaw, the other an end zone steal late in the game to seal the six point gap.
“We wanted to win this one most this season,” said Oakleaf senior quarterback Drew Ammon, who connected with a 75 yard scoring pass to wide out Carlos Witherup to build a 20-7 first half surge. “I know we got Bartram Trail, but this one was important. Carlos opens up I’m going to get him the ball.”
For head coach Marcus Miller, the win was a big one for him, but more importantly, the win told his team that they can compete with the best in the district.
“You guys can write upset if you want, but this one was a lot more fun than the Baker County game,” said Miller. “We learned a lot from the Baker County game and did not have a lot go wrong here tonight. We still got some big games to come and a long bus ride to Tallahassee Chiles this week.”
On Oakleaf’s first possession, the Knights converted a fourth and five situation at the Golden Eagle 19 yard line with an Ammon pass to Bradshaw that preempted a two yard scoring dive from running back Devin Outlaw with eight minutes left in the first quarter.
In what seemed to preview a track-meet scenario for the highly-potent offenses, Fleming Island sophomore quarterback Cibastian Broughton showed off his speed afoot with a 65 yard sprint to the Knights’ 25 yard line.
In what would be a staple defensive effort for Knight’s defensive coordinator Ben White, Oakleaf sophomore safety Drake Stubbs stuffed Fleming Island running back Sam Singleton on second down to lose a yard and eventually leave the Golden Eagles at zero after a failed fourth and five that ended with Oakleaf defensive back Corey Washington scooping up a Trace Burney fumble.
“Our job was for me to shadow Sam, make good open field tackles and not give him space,” said Stubbs. “I know my boys were coming behind me so I could get to the point of attack quickly.”
White dialed up an aggressive, challenging defense that did not allow Singleton’s explosive running get loose.
“The game plan was to put Drake on Sam and let him fly around all night,” said White. “We wanted to let Prince fly up front and chase as our fastest defensive lineman. We got that Baker County game out of our head tonight. Can’t get any bigger than beating our arch rival.”
Ammon opened up the ensuing series with a jet sweep to Bradshaw that went 30 yards to midfield.
Outlaw got smashed by Fleming Island linebacker Jhace Edwards to lose a yard with Ammon getting hurried to a bad throw and the Golden Eagle defense catching Witherup also on a jet sweep to force a punt.
On first down, linebacker Jaiden Hicks scooped up a Singleton fumble via defensive back Dajon Browns’s tackle to put Oakleaf back in the red zone at the Golden Eagle 12 yard line with 3:39 left in the first quarter.
A bobbled center snap put Oakleaf at second and 25 before Ammon found Witherup in the end zone on a slant to go up 13-0 with 2:43 still in the first quarter. Ammon missed his PAT kick left.
In the second quarter, Singleton made a controversial hurdle move that looked exciting, but cost Fleming Island 15 penalty yards that pushed the Golden Eagles from the Oakleaf 11 yard line back all the way to Oakleaf’s 40 yard line.
Broughton answered with a tight end post to Dakota Rowe to make back the penalty yards with Singleton roughing up the defense to the 11 yard line. From the seven, Hicks ate up Singleton on a blitz to put Fleming Island at third and 11 before Broughton got a lucky rebound off a pass block that landed back in his hands to set up a field goal attempt for the Golden Eagles only to have a penalty flag give Fleming Island a fourth and four at the Oakleaf four.
Stubbs again stuffed Singleton to give Oakleaf possession at their own 10 yard line.
Ammon misfired to Bradshaw on first down, but hit a slant for a third and six. With Fleming Island wary of Bradshaw, Ammon hit Witherup on a two yard slant to set up a fourth and five for Oakleaf still deep in their end of the field; the three yard line. Ammon would punt 60 yards with a bounce to the Golden Eagle 39 yard line.
Fleming Island got a 30 yard run from Tay’Shaun Smith behind a Rowe block to put the Golden Eagles back in scoring possession with five minutes to halftime.
At the 25, Broughton ran a QB sweep to the 18 before hitting Rowe for a score with 3:24 to halftime.
Oakleaf got the ensuing kickoff at the 22 where Ammon, from the 30, lofted a dime to Witherup all alone heading to paydirt to push the Oakleaf lead to 20-7 with 2:26 still to go to halftime.
Broughton aired a long distance strike to wideout Darion Domenick, but Domenick mishandled the pass to leave Fleming Island at fourth and five.
In the third quarter, Singleton again got corraled by nine of the 11 Oakleaf defenders to start the stanza to put Fleming Island at second and 20 at the 11.
A quick out pass by Broughton got snagged by Bradshaw for a pick six touchdown interception to put Fleming Island down now 26-7 at 10:06.
“Whoever gets him next is getting a dual player; offense and defense,” said Ammon.
Ammon’s deep kickoff got kicked out of bounds by Fleming Island returnman Kaylib Singleton to start Fleming Island at their own seven.
Broughton started to manipulate his tosses inside and outside with Tracy Burney taking a sideline pass for extra yards to the 45 before Singleton powered past Oakleaf safety Dajon Brown to get to the Oakleaf 13.
With 6:10 left in the third, a flag moved the Golden Eagles back five, but Broughton responded with a quick slant to Burney to the eight. Broughton faked to Singleton then high-stepped his way into the end zone to score the game 26-14.
Fleming Island got good kickoff coverage to put Oakleaf at their own 14. From the 26, Outlaw bounced to the sideline then cut the grain to the Fleming Island 10, but a holding flag negated the long run.
At the 16, Ammon floated a pass to Bradshaw that Fleming Island linebacker Abram Wright snagged near midfield to breathe life on to the Golden Eagle sideline.
At their own 45, Stubbs again got behind the line of scrimmage to nail Broughton with three flags laying on the turf.
The officials discussion ended with Fleming Island at first down and a country mile from their own 30 with 2:06 on the clock.
Just before the end of the third, Oakleaf defensive back Jordan Nesby added to the interception watch list with a snare in front of the Oakleaf sideline with penalties putting Oakleaf at fourth and 17 at the 35 where Ammon quick-kicked out to the Fleming Island 20 where a flag put the Golden Eagles at their own 15.
Oakleaf defensive back Bryson Kitt wrapped up Broughton on a sideline jaunt before Broughton hit Brenden Cook in centerfield at the 44 yard line.
Savea then gulped up a Singleton sandwich to slow the roll of Fleming Island; second and 14.
Broughton went to Cook again, but Nesby had coverage amidst moans and groans from the Fleming Island sideline for his proximity to Cook.
From there, Broughton rolled and hit Burney who was tanked and tossed by Hicks out of bounds amidst flags on the play to give Fleming Island a big jump to the Oakleaf 32 with 8:05 on the clock.
Second at the Oakleaf 27, Broughton got snaked by Bradshaw’s second interception; in the end zone, to halt the drive with Bradshaw getting Ammon a first down at the 29 with seven minutes left in the game.
Wright again came up big with a sack to put Oakleaf at fourth and 13. Ammon’s punt had Fleming Island starting at their own six yard line with 5:01 on the clock.
Fleming Island replaced Broughton with sophomore Carson Stewart at quarterback and Singleton exploded to the Oakleaf 47 to make things interesting, but Oakleaf defensive end Braden Cole pillowcased Stewart at the 46.
Third and six, with two minutes left, Oakleaf defensive end Jacob McClenick forced a sideline sack of Stewart.
Stewart found Cook on a sliding slant for the first down at the 39 yard line before hitting Domenick in the end zone for the final score.