Brandon Halas, Correspondent (@BrandonHalasFS on Twitter)
TALLAHASSEE, FLA., (www.franchisesportsonline.net) – The Leon Lions football team forced the Rickards Raiders into six turnovers to extend their record to 2-0 on the year with a close 22-21 win Friday night at Gene Cox Stadium.
The game was dominated early by Rickards as they went up early 7-0 behind a 40-yard touchdown by Kelvin Dean Jr. Leon would capture its first turnover on a Khamari Brown interception that was returned for 33 yards. That led to a 19-yard touchdown by junior quarterback Paxton Tomaini on the first play of the second quarter.
The second quarter was defined by turnovers as Rickards gave away another interception to junior Marvin Easley.
“Getting turnovers is something we practiced all week,” Easley said.
Again the turnover would lead to points. The Lions would kick a field goal making it 9-7 going into the half.
Rickards came out rejuvenated in the second half behind senior quarterback, Blake Goins as he led Rickards downfield culminating in a nine-yard rush to put the Raiders back on top 14-9. Tomanini and the Lions responded quickly with a nine-yard quarterback rush of their own, regaining the lead 15-14.
Rickards’ rushing game was hurt by the injury of leading rusher, Kelvin Dean Jr., on an awkward landing on a rush in the third quarter. Dean Jr. put up a staggering 145 rushing yards along with a touchdown through three quarters.
Rickards would take back the lead again with a quick strike from Goins making it 21-15 heading into the fourth quarter. However, on their next possession, Leon would get another takeaway when sophomore Jarvis Williams picked off Goins. On the following Leon punt, Rickards fumbled the return and the Lions recovered the ball on the five-yard line. Parker Williams would punch it in on the goal line making it 22-21.
Although Dean Jr. left earlier with an undisclosed injury, sophomore De’andre Francis picked up the load for the rest of the game for the Rickards running attack as he totaled 53 yards in the fourth. Once again, a fumble led to another turnover for the Raiders. Leon would run out the clock, gaining their second win of the season.
“Overall, it was just a great team win,” Tomaini said. He finished the game with 120 total yards. “Any time your defense gets six turnovers, your more than likely going to win.”
Rickards looks to bounce back from their 0-2 start next week against Chiles. As for Leon, they look to ride their 2-0 start into the rest of the season. The Lions take on Sandalwood September 7th at home.
“Leon we’re back on the map!” Easley said.