TALLAHASSEE, FLA. (franchisesportsonline.net) – The game was tight for all four quarters, but Wakulla managed to pull away from the Clay for a 34-24 victory and earn a spot in the 5A State Final.
Wakulla head coach Barry Klees could barely contain his excitement after the game. “Well, were extremely happy, I can’t express enough happiness.”
Nursing a 27-24 lead with 5:05 left in the fourth quarter, Wakulla went on arguably their most important drive of the season. The War Eagles chewed up 2:27 of clock and capped off the drive with a 28-yard scamper from Demarcus Lindsey, sealing the win with 2:38 left in the game. Lindsey had 12 carries for 66 yards and a touchdown on the night.
Clay went on a 20-play 80-yard drive that lasted 6:55 before Wakulla iced the game. The drive culminated in a 3-yard rush from Colin Wilson, who had eight carries for 20 yards and three touchdowns.
For a moment, it looked like Clay may stage a comeback after Wakulla quarterback Feleipe Franks fumbled the snap with 2:02 left in the third quarter. Clay capitalized on the turnover and turned it into a touchdown 1:40 later.
However, Demarcus Lindsey returned the kickoff 30 yards to set the War Eagles up with prime field position at the 48-yard line. On the first play of the drive, Franks hit junior wide receiver Kelton Donaldson for a 52-yard touchdown, taking away all the momentum Clay had gained just seconds before.
“It was huge,” Klees said. “They just had a 60-yard drive that wore us out, and then we come back in one play hit a post to Kelton Donaldson to stretch the lead to 10.”
Clay’s uptempo run offense tried to wear out the Wakulla defense rushing the ball 62 times, but receiver/safety Keith Gavin made sure the Blue Devil runners had their eyes pealed in the open field. With 8:30 left in the third quarter, Gavin, laid some lumber against a Blue Devils running back Marcus Jones. The play took the breath away from Jones and the crowd.
From then on, no one ran towards Gavin.
“[Gavin] is one of the best players I’ve seen,” Clay head coach Josh Hoekstra said. “The kid doesn’t come off the field, and I have a ton of respect for him.”
Gavin also caught a pair of touchdowns to go along with 93 yards. The first, a 15-yard screen pass from Franks that got Wakulla on the scoreboard 7-3 with 1:34 left in the first quarter. Gavin’s second touchdown was just as important, a 46-yard go-route from Franks on the opening drive of the third quarter extended Wakulla’s lead 20-10.
Franks, who recently made headlines switching his commitment from LSU to Florida, finished the game 9 of 13 for 173 yards and three touchdowns. Clay was led by senior running back Bilal Ally, who rushed 38 times for 150 yards. Ally also added a 26-yard catch that lead to a Wilson two-yard score.
Wakulla will continue their historic season against Orlando area Bishop Moore. The 5A State Championship game will be held this Friday in Orlando at the Citrus Bowl. Kickoff is set for 1:07 p.m.