Northeast Florida Sports Jacksonville

Two special teams blunders help Ribault pull off the upset

NORTHSIDE -In one split second, Ryan Finn had a chance to redeem himself, lining up for a 27-yard field goal with 41.7 seconds remaining.

The kick barely left the ground though and sailed right into the back of a teammate, helping Ribault stun Lee 7-6 at Alvin White Stadium.

Just like that kick, Lee saw it’s undefeated season sail in the opposite direction.

Earlier in the game, a low snap on a point after attempt prevented Finn from tying the game. A play, which at that time didn’t seem that important, proved to be very costly in the end.

Finn was given the opportunity to redeem himself thanks to the reigning Class 7A Player of the Year Derrick Jones guiding his team down the field and getting in the red zone in the final minute.

Taking over at their own 33-yard line with 6:39 left in the game, the Generals went on a 16 play drive nickeling and diming their way down the field as well as on the ground to keep the drive alive.

The big play was a 13 yard completion from Jones to Terry McKinney on third down that brought the Generals inside the 8-yard line with around a minute remaining in the game.

Jones followed with a short 3 yard run, but an illegal procedure penalty on the ensuing snap put them back to the 10-yard line.

Back-to-back incomplete passes set up fourth and goal for the Generals giving the Lee coaches a tough decision to make go for it or send out the kicker to try to win it.

Finn came off the sideline and onto the field and the low snap never had a chance, as Finn was able to get a foot on it, but the projection of the ball went right into a lineman’s back.

The Lee Generals entered Alvin White Stadium in their red, white and blue uniforms and also undefeated; but left with a loss.

Trojans quarterback Jhamaal Marsh took a knee setting off a wild celebration on the field and sideline, ending the Generals perfect season.

A defensive and physical game took control of the game early on and throughout the game, as both teams laid jarring hits setting the tone for a heated affair.

Following a punt, both teams had to be separated after a pushing match occurred setting off both teams but both coaching staffs and the officials quickly were able to break up the altercation.

Four plays the Trojans took advantage of a shanked punt that traveled 8 yards setting up at the 19-yard line. Marsh scrambled around for a while before finding Ron Gibson in the back of the end zone as Gibson went up in the air and pulled down the 5-yard touchdown pass for the 7-0 lead with 10:10 left till halftime.

Lee quickly answered on the ensuing drive as Jones connected with Jurial Caldwell and McKinney for a pair of 21 yard completions to set up the Generals at the 4-yard line.

Two plays later, Allan Bass walked in the end zone for a 3 yard run cutting the lead to 7-6 with 7:30 left till halftime. A low snap on the ensuing point after attempt forced holder Teddy Ingram to scramble and try to make a play but Ingram was hit by a host of Trojans.

At the time you didn’t think that would be such a big play but you realized points were definitely going to be a premium as both teams defenses came ready to play.

Linebacker Josh Whitehead consistently made plays for the Trojans in the upset win over Lee

Later in the game with the Generals on the move near midfield, Jalen Gaines made a superb play picking off Jones before falling out of bounds with under two minutes left in the third quarter.

Both teams have excellent secondaries featuring Vincent Davis, Eugene Bowman, Devon Matthews, Nick Garner and Jabari Jaudon.

Playmakers Jurial Caldwell, Teddy Ingram and Taz Nicholson along with Kenneth Channelle and Mike McCray were seldomly heard from during the game, thanks to both teams secondaries shutting down their opponents top receivers.

The announcer kept saying ‘we might bend but we don’t break’ and that was especially true. Every time either team would make a big play the defense would tighten up and keep them out of the end zone.

As the game headed into the fourth quarter, somebody needed to step up and make a big play.

That somebody was McKinney, who hauled in a 40 yard touchdown pass on third and 12 giving the Generals an apparent 12-7 lead. However the official flagged the Generals for holding as a lineman laid on a Trojan lineman nullifying the score.

A play later, Jones found a streaking Nicholson wide open across the middle and Nicholson dropped the pass in what would have been a 40 yard touchdown pass.

Back-to-back scoring plays called back and just like that the Generals were forced to punt it away again.

While the win was sweet for Ribault (4-2, 1-0) it won’t mean as much if they can’t handle business Tuesday night in Live Oak against host Suwannee (2-3, 1-0) in a critical District 3-5A game with first place in the district on the line.

Meanwhile, Lee (5-1) hopes to regroup quickly as they travel to First Coast (1-5, 0-1) next Friday in a key District 2-7A game. While the undefeated season is off the table, winning the district and the No. 1 overall seed in Region I-7A are both still on the table.