Northeast Florida Sports Jacksonville

The Fourth Quarter….. The Raines Collapse Against Booker T

Some people say, “If I’m going to lose, I’d like to lose big knowing that the other team was better”. It’s what many people say in order to lessen the sting of a hard loss. Many people believe that a loss is just a loss and it hurts the same whether it’s by 1 point or by 100 points. I’ve found myself in the ladder category as a High School player and as a fan, until Saturday night. Saturday night at the conclusion of the Raines vs Booker T Championship game, I instantly became a subscriber to the former.

IMG_5750 (800x533)William M. Raines (Jacksonville, FL) fell to Booker T. Washington(Miami, FL) 43-23 in the FHSAA  4A State Championship game. It was a game that will haunt the Vikings the entire off-season, and who knows how long the city of Jacksonville. Raines was the third school of the Jacksonville area to make an appearance in the finals, as Trinity and University Christian won the 3A and 2A titles respectively. Yet Raines was the only public school in the area to make it. In fact Raines was attempting to be the only public High School in Duval County to win a State title since the Vikings did it back in 1997. Now before you dismiss this as an irrelevant fact, know that this game meant something not only to Jacksonville but people around the state as well. One reason is mentioned in this article highlighting the rivalry and similarities the two towns on opposite sides of the map have.But another reason was revealed to me directly.IMG_5748 (800x533) There was a sense in the press box that Miami was going to win the game no matter what. Not because they were the better team, but rather because they always win it. Booker T had won three straight titles. And even with a young team and new head coach, this was the sentiments before and during the game. Even at half time with Raines dominating the affair the mood was as if a storm was brewing.Raines lead Booker T  10-7 at halftime of the FHSAA State Final Game. Raines received the kickoff and drove to midfield when August Debiase threw an interception . Debiase had thrown two interceptions in the game up to that point, one of which was returned for a 100yd interception return by Booker T’s Marquis Decius to put the tornadoes up 7-0. Debiase’s two picks stalled two drives as Raines dominated the game in time of possession, and yards.

Booker T’s Daniel Richardson had thrown three interceptions in the game at halftime. It had been a disastrous start for the Tornadoes on offense, but their defense held strong. The Tornadoes stopped Raines in the red zone four times in the first half. It could easily have been 28-7 Raines, but thanks to Booker T’s defense they kept them in the game. Raine’s defense stepped up to the plate in the game too. Michael Pinckney had four tackles, and an interception at half time. He also forced a fumble after Raine’s first score electrifying the crowd.

 

 

The second half Booker T came out smoking with a big kickoff return but could not turn it into points. Both teams traded big plays only to be negated by penalties in the start of the 3rd. Little did both teams know that the scoreless start of the third would start the count down toward a scored packed fourth. Booker T’s Trawone Johnson caught the short pass for a TD from Nelson. Booker T’s score was set up by a muffed punt by Willie Wright. IMG_5770 (800x533)Score was 14-10 Booker T with 4:34  left in the 3rd quarter. Raines would respond on their next drive running the ball down Booker T’s throat. Strong runs by Alex Rutledge and Debiase got them into Booker T’s redzone, but a fumbled snap and strong defense by the Tornadoes stopped the Vikings. 1:20  left in the 3rd quarter. Booker T would begin their drive assuming their offensive woes were over for the night. But a Nelson pass was deflected and intercepted by #15 Jacquan Holt and run into the endzone for a touchdown.The score would prompt the Jacksonville crowd to chant ” Duuuuval”. Raines would miss the extra point but lead 16-14, 40 seconds left in 3rd. At this point it seemed as if Raines still had control of the game, yet Booker T’s offense was not done on the evening and the fourth quarter was about to begin.

The 4th Quarter… 

was like groundhog day in the 90’s classic film with Bill Murray, and judgment day in the terminator movies . It seemed like it would never end, and after it happened you wished it had never come. In the fourth, the Tornado’s Darrius Scott caught a touchdown pass from Richardson to make it 22-16 after #2 Raymon Flander’s 2 point conversion. But Dalvin Storey would make an incredible catch, thrown by Debiase for the Raines TD, putting them back up 23-22. Some experts during the game questioned why the Vikings did not utilize Storey and the other tall wide receivers of the Vikings. That thought was echoed by a fan in casual conversation as I pumped gas outside the Citrus bowl.Instead of Raines playing pitch and catch Booker T did.

On Booker’s next possession, Richardson hit a wide open Gustavious Dames on a seam down the middle. Credit should go to Coach Earl Tillman Jr and his staff for recognizing the aggressive Viking defense. A defense that flustered Booker T’s Quarterback all game long, was finally exposed on a play that seemed to deflate the Vikings and pump up the Tornadoes.

Alex Rutledge of Raines shredded the Tornadoes defense all night. They couldn’t stop him in the game. He hit them with speed, power, agility, and heart. In fact the entire Raines rushing attack could not be stopped. But one play in the fourth quarter would sum up the entire game for the Vikings. #1 Bishop Bonnet received the hand off deep in his own territory and hit the corner around the left side. He would cut back and break several tackles as he crossed midfield carrying tacklers. But then disaster struck as Booker T’s Marquis Decius stripped the ball from Bonnet’s tight grasp and the ball bounced into the hands of #11 Myron Morris. Morris would return the fumble 75 yards for the score leaping into the end zone to the Miami crowd’s yelled of “Wooooha!” Booker T led 36-23.

 

 

 

The fourth quarter nightmare was not over. On Raine’s next possession, QB Augie Debiase dropped back and his pass was deflected as it released his hands. The ball bounce behind the line of scrimmage and was scooped up by #44 Brandon Tobar. Tobar raced down the left sideline eluding the Raines would be tackler to leap into the endzone as the Miami crowd yelled “wooooha”.

Customarily for a Raines team this year, the fourth quarter has been where they normally shine. A long drive to seal the win. A special teams punt return to make a miraculous comeback. A major defensive stop to hold off an opponent. None of that would be the reality Saturday. Raines would end the game with six redzone opportunities but could only muster 16 points from it. They out-gained Booker T on the ground 256  to 90 and through the air 227 to 212. 80 of Booker T’s 212 passing yards came from one play. And it was big plays not long possessions that ultimately did the Vikings in. It was truly a fourth quarter nightmare.

So how will Raines get past the quarterly conundrum that was the fourth period? Head Coach Deran Wiley believes that “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”.

 

Strength is what Raines will need to get through a long off-season of wondering what if. But if they intend to make it a habit on getting to the big show, they may only need to improve one thing in the end.  Booker T.  Washington won their fourth straight title not because they played the better game, but because they knew how to win in the fourth quarter of a championship game. That comes with experience, and experience may be the most important attribute that gives you the advantage when your holding those four fingers in the air to start the fourth quarter.

 

Check out the  Photo Gallery form the game below:

 

 

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