Northeast Florida Sports Jacksonville

Last Second Field Goal Lifts St.Augustine Over Bartram

ST. AUGUSTINE – With eight seconds remaining on the clock, and the score tied at 28 all, St Augustine kicker Elijah Ryan trotted out on the field to attempt the game winning field goal. It was a moment frozen in time for Bartram Trail, as players coaches and fans looked on from the sideline with the lure of an 0-19 all time record versus St. Augustine hanging in the balance. Bears Head Coach Darrell Sutherland called time out before Ryan attempted his kick looking to ice the junior. However on this night, Elijah would have ice water flowing through his veins as he nailed the 36 yard field goal leaving only two seconds on the clock to put St. Augustine up 31-28. The Stanford/Cal  laterals did not work for the Bears on the ensuing kickoff, and time expired in the game and on Bartram’s hopes of ending the losing streak to St. Augustine which now stands at nineteen games.

If Bartram was to win a game in the series, this was the year many picked them to do it. They boasted one of the best offenses in the country, and some of the best talent in the state. They are big, fast and supremely talented, leading northeast Florida in total offense with over five hundred yards. Yet St. Augustine came into the game a close third in total offense with just under five hundred yards. And early on in the contest, the Jackets displayed the weapons that had them on cloud nine in the game. The first weapon was quarterback Austin Reed, who had a coming out party for the capacity crowd to see. On the first possession of the game, the St. Augustine quarterback drove his team 80 yards in just six plays. Good catch and runs by #2 Cedrin Daniel set up the touchdown pass from Reed to #8 Karim Brown for the games first score. It wouldn’t be their last. As storm clouds moved in from the west, it was quarterback Riley Smith’s job to weather the storm for Bartram on their first drive. He did so by driving the Bears down the field and hooking up with #4 Xavier Hutchinson on a big gainer across the middle. The drive would end with Smith lofting a beautiful tear drop to the corner of the end zone that brought the rain literally, falling into the hands of his receiver #12 Gunnar Hitzeman. The score was tied 7-7 early in the first as the rain started to pour.

After both teams scored on their first possessions of the game, it seemed like we would be in for a shootout, but the Bartram defense would force a punt on the next St. Augustine drive. The Bears would get the ball and drive down the field, this time led by quarterback Joey Gatewood. Gatewood would hook up with Xavier Hutchinson on a nice arching pass to the right corner of the end zone, but a penalty on the offense took the points off the board. Gatewood would look for his receiver on the opposite side of the field but it would be picked off at the one yard line by #1 corner back Lonnell Harris of St. Augustine, thwarting a promising drive and ending the first quarter. The second quarter began just as the first with Austin Reed finding his play maker Karim Brown. This time Brown got behind his defender as Reed rolled to his right, tossing  another perfect pass into the arms of his streaking receiver. Brown did the rest, racing 65 yards for their second touchdown of the game, and putting St. Augustine up 14-7. The methodical St. Augustine drive started on their own one yard line with simple quarterback sneaks to get out of the shadow of their end zone. Now Bartram would attempt to get from out under the shadow of their 18-game losing streak to St. Augustine. But the Jackets would not oblige.

On Bartram’s next drive, Riley Smith drove them into St. Augustine territory, but his quick out pass to the right was intercepted by #11 Jaden McDowell who raced 78 yards for the pick six. The play stunned the crowd as Bartram’s faithful looked on in disbelief and the St. Augustine fans lavished in the euphoria of potentially upsetting the #5 State ranked Bears. 21-7 was the score, with 7:38 to go in the second quarter.Customarily with Bartram, they rotate quarterbacks every series, and now it was Gatewood’s turn to run the offense. Run he did, mixing passes with unplanned scrambles driving the Bears near mid-field. The Bears would regain life on this drive, as Gatewood hit Griffin Helm on a short pass to his right where Helm out maneuvered two would be tacklers to sprint 56 yards for a touchdown. Bartram now trailed St. Augustine 21-14, going into halftime.

In the third quarter, both defenses came alive. St. Augustine’s #9 defensive end Josh Rickerson made plays in the backfield for the Jackets, while #7 outside linebacker Joshua Peterson made solid tackles to prevent the big and athletic Bartram quarterbacks from scrambling for large gains. The defensive staff for St. Augustine devised a great game plan by their front four. Push the pocket, but maintain rush lanes. This strategy forced both Gatewood and Smith to look flustered and confused has they attempted to find creases in the defense to exploit with their legs. However there would be none to be found on this night as the Jackets swarmed them heavily.. Bartram’s defense finally stood up as well. St. Augustine found themselves on the Bears seven yard line with four chances to score. Big #55 Robby Love clogged running lanes and #14 Chase Ruskin flew off the edge to stop St. Augustine’s red zone run game. Finally on fourth down, St. Augustine snapped the ball over the head of their quarterback and #9 Oliver Pageotte-andre scooped up the fumble and was tackled near mid-field. It was a big stop by the Bartram defense to keep the score 21-14.

In the fourth quarter the action picked up as time raced to its end. Seemingly uncommitted to the run the entire first half, Head Coach Darrell Sutherland finally started to run the football. It yielded success as running back #22 Devin Ellison reeled off nice runs, culminating in a one yard touchdown score by the junior tailback. The score was tied 21 all, and the Bartram fans felt life springing back in them. Even the band did not rest for their normal third quarter break and played powerfully in the fourth to cheer on their team. After another stop by the Bears defense, thanks to punishing hits by #90 Parker Devine, Bartram would continue to run the ball down the throat of St. Augustine. The Bears clearly had a size advantage over St. Augustine and they exploited the mismatches in the fourth quarter. Runs by Gatewood and Ellison ended the drive with another short touchdown run by Ellison . The touchdown with 3:56 remaining in the fourth, gave Bartram their first lead of the entire game. For the first time Austin Reed and Head Coach Brian Braddock were faced with the scenario of trailing in the game. Braddock had attempted to control the game by winning time of possession and running the football. However this yielded minimal success. Now he would dial up plays that exploited his mismatches on the field and that involved one man, Mr. Karim Brown. Late in the final quarter, Reed would take the quick shot gun snap and rifle the pass to Brown on a short come back. Brown would shake and stiff arm his defender to race 60 yards for his third touchdown of the game. Said Coach Braddock after the game of what he saw in the Bartram Trail secondary to exploit it, ” I see Karim Brown in practice every day, that’s what I saw”. It was Brown’s electrifying play that tied the game 28-28 with only two minutes remaining.

Riley Smith would be the one called upon to lead Bartram down the field for the go ahead score, but St. Augustine’s defense stopped the run and surprisingly Bartram did not attempt to put the ball in the air. The Jackets would force a punt with only 35 seconds left on the clock, and their offense would get the ball at their own 14 yard line. On trotted quarterback Austin Reed, childhood friends of opposing QB Riley Smith. They train with each other and played middle school football against one another in St. John’s County. Now it would be Reed’s turn to revert back to his 7 on 7 days, and his first play with less than a minute to play was a swing pass to running back #15 Dexter Brown for the first down. His next pass, a rocket to the play maker Karim Brown who ran for a thirty yard gain before being tackled near mid field. Reed again would find Karim on the slant, this time for 20 yards down to the Bear 25 yard line with just .8 seconds to play. Braddock decided at this time to send on his field goal kicker to attempt what would’ve been a 41 yard field goal. However an off-sides penalty on Bartram moved the ball up to their own 21 yard line. On the next play, Elijah Ryan would knock through the 36 yard field goal and pandemonium would ensue on the field as St. Augustine defeated Bartram 31-28.

Karim Brown’s performance will go down as one of the best in St. Augustine’s storied history. He finished the night with nine catches for 250 yards and three touchdowns. Over heard on the sideline during the game, Brown exuded confidence ” They can’t stop me, I can’t be stopped”. Indeed he and his St. Augustine teammates could not be stopped on this evening. They’ll look to keep the wins coming against Englewood next game. Bartram will look to rebound against rival Creekside.

Story Photos by Eagles Eye Photography

Head Shots by : Andre’ Ellis