Northeast Florida Sports Jacksonville

No. 1 Middle School Story of the Year: Fletcher survives 7 OT Thriller

JACKSONVILLE-For nearly three plus hours last night both No. 2 Lake Shore (8-1) and No. 3 Fletcher (8-1) traded blows back and forth before Fletcher finally delivered the knockout punch.

When Carlos Mendoza swept around the right corner of the end zone, it finally ended the marathon night as the Senators knocked off the Warriors 54-48 in seven overtimes last night at Ed White.

The multiple overtime periods made up for the anti climatic regulation game which ended 8-8 after forty minutes.

The game was delayed several minutes after Fletcher didn’t arrive at the game until 5 minutes before kickoff.

You wouldn’t know they just had just literally got of the bus as the Senators quickly struck first. Colby Smith rumbled 52 yards up the middle untouched on the first play of the game to give the Senators a 8-0 lead seconds into the game.

Four minutes later on its second possession, Lake Shore got even after a bad snap was recovered by Michon Covington at the 21-yard line. One play later, Christopher Freeman took a sweep 23 yards down the left sideline tying the game at 8-8 with 4:03 left in the first quarter.

That was all the scoring in regulation as both teams couldn’t hold on to the ball in a sloppy played game as both teams combined for 5 fumbles and 3 interceptions in regulation.

Just like high school, overtime consists of both teams getting the ball at the 10-yard line and getting four plays to score alternating possessions until the tie is broken.

First Overtime 

Fletcher won the toss and differed to go on defense first like most teams do to see what they have to do on offense.

On the Warriors third play of overtime, quarterback Jaylen Smith snuck in from the 1-yard line to put them ahead, athlete Montranious Mack was stuffed on the two-point conversion play keeping it 14-8.

Fletcher had a turn and tailback Carlos Mendoza rumbled in from 4 yards tying the game at 14-14, however Colby Smith was stuffed short of the goal line forcing a second overtime.

Second Overtime

This time Fletcher went on offense first and the Senators caught the Warriors off guard as No. 23 pulled up and hit Javon Heggs on a short pass for a score. Mendoza ran in the two-point conversion giving the Senators a 22-14 lead.

Lake Shore had a chance to tie the game and did as Jaylen Smith threw a dart between two Senators defenders and Ernest Ricks hauled it in on the first play of scrimmage cutting the lead to 22-20. Mack found a crease and ran in the two-point conversion tying the game at 22-22 forcing a third overtime.

Third Overtime

Fletcher appeared to have Lake Shore finally stopped in overtime, however Jaylen Smith snuck in on fourth down putting the Warriors ahead 28-22. The two-point pass failed allowing the Senators a chance to win it on their possession.

Colby Smith rumbled in from a yard to tie it at 28-28; however Mendoza was stuffed again and we headed for a fourth overtime.

Fourth Overtime                       

Colby Smith again rumbled in from the 1 yard line and Mendoza added the two-point conversion putting the Senators ahead 36-28 and again putting a lot of pressure on Lake Shore offense.

Jaylen Smith broke loose and scrambled 10 yards for a score and Mack ran in the two-point conversion tying the game at 36-36 and forcing a fifth overtime.

Fifth Overtime

Mack connected with Kevin Greene for a wide open 5-yard touchdown completion on the third play of their possession giving the Warriors a 42-36 lead. Mack was stuffed 2 yards short of the first down, leaving the door open for the Senators to win it.

By this time both teams were fully exhausted and cramping as three Lake Shore defensive players had to come out of the game after cramping up.

A play later, Colby Smith bulldozed his way in from 4 yards tying the game at 42-42; however with a chance to win the game the Senators fumbled the ball at the goal line to force a sixth overtime.

Sixth Overtime

Javon Heggs, who in regulation hauled in an interception, took a jet sweep around the left end for a 10-yard touchdown on the first play of their possession to give Fletcher a 48-42 lead. Heggs was stopped well short of the goal line on the two-point conversion attempt.

Mack tied it again at 48-48 two plays later on a 2-yard run; but the two-point conversion attempt fell incomplete to force a seventh overtime.

Seventh Overtime

Lake Shore started the seventh overtime on offense and appeared to have scored on the first play as Mack connected with Covington for an apparent 10 yard score but the official ruled ineligible receiver down field and nullified the score.

Now backed up to the 15-yard line, the Warriors were stunned by the call and had to quickly regroup.

Mack ran back-to-back plays 5 yards to put the Warriors inside the 5 yard line setting up a third and goal from the 5 yard line.

Julian Thompson nearly picked up the first down gaining 4 yards putting the Warriors in a fourth and goal play.

After a brief timeout, Mack lined up a quarterback and ran left and was gang tackled short of the goal line turning the ball over to Fletcher.

Two plays later, Mendoza swept left and raced 6 yards in the end zone for a 54-48 win for the Senators.

Players ran to Mendoza in the back of the end zone and dog piled on top of him to celebrate the huge win including defensive coordinator Rodney Gnat.

Gnat told the team after the game “This is something you will never forget and remember for the rest of your life,” and “for you guys to keep it together that’s Fletcher football.”

“Chaos is all I can say,” Gnat said, “I have never been apart of anything like that before as a player or coach.”

Gnat kept talking to his team during the overtime periods and tried to settle them down after several players kept getting frustrated and were seen throwing their helmets down.

“I just kept telling them I need one more play either on offense or defense, somebody make a play and finally somebody did and we got the job done,” Gnat said. “We preach to our kids don’t give up and lets keep them to 6 points on offense, our kids were very tired but well conditioned for this.”