Florida High squanders a 21-point lead in crushing 3A semifinals defeat to King’s Academy

Florida High Seminoles vs. King’s Academy Lions, Class 3A state semifina…

Florida High’s dream of reaching a first-ever state championship ended in a nightmare finish, resulting in a 49-48 loss to King’s Academy in a Class 3A state semifinal on Friday night in Southwood.

The Seminoles squandered a 35-14 lead in the third quarter and missed a game-tying extra point late in the fourth stanza.

"I’m extremely proud of the things we did this year. One play, one point," Florida High head coach Jarrod Hickman said.

"It’s hard. We have a tremendous group of seniors. Our guys battled adversity. We won a lot of big games and had a lot of respect around the state. This is what the playoffs are and they made more plays."

King’s Academy Lions vs. Florida High Seminoles, Class 3A state semifinal, Tallahassee, FL, Nov. 30, 2018.

Florida High (8-4) jumped out to a hot start with a 14-7 lead in the first quarter.

Wide receiver Raymond Woodie III was responsible for the scoring with touchdown grabs of 27 and 41 yards.

In the second quarter, Javan Morgan joined in on the point total with a 45-yard touchdown pass from Bryson Hill.

The Seminoles added to their lead when Cordell Clay dashed through the coverage for an 11-yard run, pushing the score to 28-7.

Later, King’s Academy quarterback Justin Wake hit Jayvon Wynn with a 19-yard touchdown to reduce the gap to 28-14 at halftime.

Florida High running back Cordell Clay celebrates a touchdown run as King’s Academy Lions plays at Florida High in a Class 3A state semifinal, Tallahassee, FL, Nov. 30, 2018.

Florida High opened the second half with a defensive highlight. Willie Taggart Jr. scooped up a loose ball and returned the fumble 55 yards to the end zone.

His score proved to be the last shining moment for the Seminoles as King’s Academy (12-1) reeled off 21 unanswered points to pull even at 35 apiece.

The Lions’ rally began as Wake fired off a 62-yard scoring strike to Wynn, shrinking the deficit to 35-21.

The turning point of the game was the result of a deep scouting report by the Lions’ coaching staff. Bernie Cueto’s well-executed onside kick was recovered to continue the visitor’s surge.

“Last week, the Seminoles scored three touchdowns on kick returns. We didn’t like that," King’s Academy head coach Keith Allen said. "Coach (Terry) Toulson, our special teams coordinator, came up with a great game plan and we pulled it off.”

Cory Croteau catches a touchdown pass as the King’s Academy Lions take on the Florida High Seminoles in a Class 3A state semifinal.

King’s Academy made the most of its opportunity. Wake connected with Cory Croteau in the end zone. This 10-yard toss with 8:01 on the clock shrunk the score to 35-28.

The Lions later drew even on a 1-yard plunge by Dillon Larson.

Florida High re-took the lead with a 30-yard run by Alfred Menjor to close out the third quarter. Although the Seminoles went back on top, the momentum stayed in favor of King’s Academy. The Lions used this energy to march downfield across the goal line.

This time, Drew Luchey hauled in the fifth touchdown pass of Wake’s night to make it a 42-42 ballgame.

Both defenses struggled with stopping the opposition on third down. However, when it counted most, the Lions held their ground.

On the next possession, they posted the game-winning score when Wake took off on a quarterback keeper.

Florida High rallied with Hill throwing a 10-yard touchdown pass to Ahmari Harvey with just a few minutes left in the game. Sadly, Sam Coste’s extra point was off target.

"This hurts a lot. I can’t even explain it," Hill said. "We were close. We just came up short in the end."

Florida High’s Bryson Hill prepares to throw the ball during the King’s Academy Lions vs. Florida High Seminoles, Class 3A state semifinal, Tallahassee, FL, Nov. 30, 2018. (Photo: Colin Abbey)
King’s Academy 49, Florida High 48

SCORING:

First quarter

FH – Raymond Woodie III 27 pass from Bryson Hill (Sam Coste kick)

KA – Cory Croteau 2 pass from Justin Wake (Bernie Cueto kick)

FH – Woodie 41 pass from Hill (Coste kick)

Second quarter

FH – Javan Morgan 41 pass from Hill (Coste kick)

FH – Cordell Clay 11 run (kick good)

KA – Jayvon Wynn 17 pass from Wake (Cueto kick)

Third quarter

FH – Willie Taggart Jr. 55 fumble return (Coste kick)

KA – Wynn 62 pass from Wake (Cueto kick)

KA – Croteau 10 pass from Wake (Cueto kick)

KA – Dillon Larson 1 run (Cueto kick)

FH – Alfred Menjor 30 run (Coste kick)

Fourth quarter

KA – Drew Luchey 32 pass from Wake (Cueto kick)

KA – Wake 12 run (Cueto kick)

FH – Ahmari Harvey 10 pass from Hill (kick failed)

RECORDS: King’s Academy (12-1), Florida High (8-4); NEXT GAME: Florida High season over

Florida High Javan Morgan (2) carries the ball for a 2nd quarter touchdown during the King’s Academy Lions vs. Florida High Seminoles, Class 3A state semifinal, Tallahassee, FL, Nov. 30, 2018.

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