“This is probably the greatest high school game I’ve probably ever watched in my life,” said former Super Bowl MVP and Baltimore Raven, Ray Lewis. And he was right. The game saw multiples fumbles, a blocked punt and a wide left field goal as time ran out, but in the end the Bishop Moore Hornets prevailed 37-34.
One guy on the Hornet side of the field knew about the pressure of a championship game, Bishop Moore’s athletic director, Mike Malatesta, who was the quarterback of Bishop Moore’s only other football State Championship in 1970.
Meanwhile on the War Eagles side of the field was All-American quarterback Feleipe Franks, a Florida commit, who many hope can solve a quarterback problem at UF, lived up to the hype. He tossed two touchdowns in the first half to fellow All-American wide receiver Keith Gavin.
In addition to throwing duty, Franks was the punter and field goal kicker, duties that might have been too much for the young athlete as the game wore on. Franks had one punt blocked by Hornet defensive end Zander Zimmer and a couple of others bounced backwards to the Hornets advantage. Zimmer also had two sacks including one in the end zone for a safety. Because of the safety, Wakulla went for a two-point conversion on their next touchdown, but were denied by the swarming Hornet defense.
After ending the first half down 21-17, 5A coach of the year Matt Hedrick had the Hornets fired up in the second half. One of three Hornets with NFL dads, Bobby Spitulski, a junior free safety, stepped up in the second half to provide additional coverage of Gavin and shut him down from scoring again.
Rayshad Lewis caught touchdown passes in the first quarter and the fourth quarter, in addition to running the ball, returning kicks on offense and playing corner back on defense. Trillion Coles took a few hard hits that had him sitting out a few plays, but it wasn’t enough to keep him out of the end zone as he scored a key touchdown in the second quarter.
Great games come down to the fourth quarter and this 5A State Championship was no different. Collin Hartmann connected with Rayshad Lewis on a 25-yard pass play that saw Lewis run the 2 point conversion as well. Then Jake McIntyre kicked a 48-yard field goal. But Wakulla wasn’t done as Brandon Berry ran in his second touchdown of the day late in the fourth quarter. With a few minutes left on the clock Bishop Moore settled in for one of their classic running drives to eat up the clock and score. Their senior quarterback, Hartmann, ran for a total of 59 yards during the game and kept them alive on this drive as well. With about 1:15 left, senior Trey Page, scampered 18 yards for a score that would put the Hornets up 37-34 and leave Wakulla 1:10 to tie or score a go-ahead touchdown.
A little good natured trash talking was happening on Twitter as well, between Republican Party of Florida Executive Director Brad Herold, a proud War Eagle alumni and political consultant Tre’ Evers, whose son plays for the Hornets.
Tweet, tweet: @bradherold: “@everstre Are you going to #Periscope this game winning drive?”
Fans wondered if the Hornets had scored too early, leaving All-American Franks with two time outs and 1:10 on the clock. But that’s where the Hornets defense stood tall, sacking Franks once and making them run the clock down to 6 seconds. Franks then had a chance at a game tying field goal of nearly 50 yards, which sailed wide left with time running out and with it the War Eagles hopes of pushing the game to overtime.
Having run out of fingernails to bite during that last few minutes, Bishop Moore’s fans erupted in cheers as the players stormed the field with the scoreboard showing the final score of Bishop Moore 37-34 over Wakulla.