ORLANDO – The 4th quarter playoff heroics for the Lake Gibson Braves (13-1) ended on Friday night.
First year Head Coach Doug DeMyer’s bid for a perfect first season ended.
While the Braves stood on the sidelines wondering what happened, the Carol City Chiefs (11-3) jumped around and screamed for the fact that they were now the new Class 6A Champions.
The state championship game featured two teams or than Armwood and/or Miami Central for the first time since 2009, but they featured two teams that beat one of those two teams.
Defense was the story of the first half, and especially in the first quarter, where Carol City limited the Braves to 15 total yards of offense. They finished with 89. “We just couldn’t get it finished, we just couldn’t muster up enough offense,” DeMyer said.
Lake Gibson’s best defensive play came in the first quarter where Joshua Hayes intercepted Marlon Smith. It wouldn’t matter two plays later – Lake Gibson QB Kevaris Thomas threw an interception right back to Carol City’s Donnelle Thomas.
The second quarter was much of the same, but the ball was a lot more in the hands of Lake Gibson, who collected their first first down early on in the quarter. The Braves collected another 13 rushing yards, but the penalties for Carol City started to pile up. At the half alone, the Chiefs had six for 61 yards.
The scoreless tie that went into the half was broken midway through the third when Nay’quan Wright busted a 51-yard rush all the way to the Lake Gibson one. He jumped over the pile on the next play to help Carol City take a 6-0 lead.
Lake Gibson’s 10 total yards of offense in the third quarter certainly didn’t help, and Thomas’ pass that was intercepted by Zion Hartfield returned to the Lake Gibson seven added insult to injury. Thomas finished 10-for-20 for 70 yards and three interceptions.
He was sacked six times.
Thomas found M.J. Link for a nice pass over the middle for a 20-yard strike to put the Braves six points from the lead. On the next drive, they forced Carol City to go three-and-out, and they received the ball at their 22.
The pair hooked up again on 3rd and 4, but was called back due to a holding that made it 3rd and 21. Thomas ticked off 14 of those yards with his left, then he threw to Antonio Denson for 7-yards to convert on 4th down. Link ran for six yards on a reverse. Then Thomas threw an incomplete pass.
Somebody needed to make a play. Thomas dropped back to pass, looked over the middle, for Link, threw it, and Irshaad Davis ran in front of its path. The Carol City side of the stadium exploded.
Just a couple of knees later, and the Braves would take state runner-up trophies instead of state championship trophies.
“We’ve got a ton of guys coming back so the potential is there, but I really don’t like saying the word potential because we still have to put in so much work to get to where we want to be,” DeMyer said.
With the loss, the Braves fall to 0-3 in state championship games, losing previously in 2003 and 2004. Carol City on the other hands, achieved their first state championship since 2003.