For a little while, Strawberry Crest’s first-ever football playoff game looked like it might end with plans set for its second game in a week. But on the last play of the game, it ended with a heartbreaker for the home team.
George Jenkins picked up a 13-0 win over the Chargers on Friday to advance to the FHSAA regional quarterfinal. Neither team could score in the first half and only Crest got close with a 42-yard field goal try early in the second quarter. The Chargers did make things interesting later in the quarter when they forced a Jenkins fumble that Brock Craig was able to come up with at midfield, but the Eagles were able to get the ball back with nine seconds left by punching it out of Jake Craig’s grasp at their own 27-yard line.
On Jenkins’ first drive of the second half, Crest ramped up the pressure in the offensive backfield when the Eagles got in the home team’s red zone and forced them to try a 37-yard field goal. It sailed wide left, giving Crest the ball back at its own 20-yard line. But Jamareon Bell snagged the first of his two interceptions a little more than a minute later, took it to Crest’s 30-yard line and set up what would soon become a 22-yard rushing touchdown for Joey Cheshire to open up the scoring. Bell then picked off Ryan Weems on the ensuing Chargers drive.
That led to back-to-back punts on consecutive drives. Crest just had much better fortune after its punt: after it rolled into the end zone for a touchback, a combination of offensive penalties and stifling defense backed the Eagles all the way down to their own five-yard line. They also burned through several timeouts in that drive before punting with 2:41 left to play, which gave the Chargers plenty of time to march downfield after they tipped Jenkins’ punt and got the ball back with only 25 yards between them and the paydirt.
The Chargers immediately gained momentum when Weems found Jake Craig open and Craig was able to fight his way to the Eagles’ four-yard line. Weems got Crest within inches of the goal line on second down, but a bobbled snap then put the home team a few yards back. Crest called for a timeout with 30 seconds left, facing fourth and goal from the three-yard line. The next snap was also fumbled, but this one was recovered by Deshawn Wilson — who then went 97 yards for a touchdown and used all of the remaining time on the clock to do it.
Because Sickles had to forfeit tonight’s scheduled game for COVID-19-related reasons, Jenkins will face Armwood in Seffner in next week’s regional quarterfinal.