BRADEN RIVER — The Braden River High football team is no stranger to overtime.
Last week, the Pirates needed two overtime periods to defeat Winter Haven in the regional quarterfinals.
So when Braden River found its season resting on one final overtime possession for the second week in row, the Pirates remained optimistic.
Unfortunately, Lake Wales also was familiar with overtime, having defeated Southeast in double overtime last week. The Highlanders took possession first in overtime. Three plays later Lake Wales quarterback Justin Shafer plunged into the end zone from 1 yard out, giving the Highlanders the lead.
Braden River (7-5) assumed possession at the 10-yard line but was unable to duplicate last week’s heroics. The Pirates, who were hosting their first playoff game, saw their season come to an end with a 21-14 overtime loss to Lake Wales (11-1) in the Class 3A-Region 3 semifinals Nov. 27.
“I think there were two pretty evenly matched football teams out there,” Braden River coach Ed Volz said. “I think we battled, and we had our chances to win, but we just didn’t finish.”
Braden River held a 14-7 advantage with eight minutes remaining in the game and was driving into Lake Wales’ territory when Javess Blue intercepted sophomore quarterback Ryan Fischer’s pass at the Highlanders’ 21-yard line.
Three plays later, Blue hauled in a 76-yard touchdown pass from Shafer to tie the game at 14-14.
After Lake Wales assumed a 21-14 lead in overtime, Braden River took over possession at the 10-yard line, needing a touchdown to send the game into double overtime. Senior running back Tevin Bryant gained three yards on first-and-goal.
Fischer then attempted to connect with Sharrod Neasman-Glover in the corner of the end zone, but the pass fell incomplete. Glover gained a yard on third-and-goal, but the Pirates were unsuccessful in reaching the end zone on fourth-and-goal as Fischer’s final pass was intercepted in the back of the end zone.
“I don’t believe in moral victories,” Volz said. “We work too hard, and you’re in the playoffs. We had as good a chance as they did to win this game. I don’t know what you take from this. Your kids play hard. You fight to the end. You just work hard to give yourself a chance to win it, and sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t.”
Lake Wales took a 7-0 lead on its opening possession when running back Kevin Prioleau scored from two yards out, capping off a six-play, 66-yard drive.
Braden River had a chance to get on the scoreboard with 2:55 remaining in the first half on a 40-yard field goal attempt by Kadin Kerns, but the kick sailed wide right. Kerns then had a 29-yard field goal blocked as time expired in the half.
The Pirates responded in the third when defensive end Ty Williams recovered a Highlanders fumble and returned it 30 yards for a score to tie the game at 7-7. Braden River extended its lead on a 2-yard keeper by Fischer to open the fourth quarter.
With the game tied at 14-14, the Pirates lined up for their third field goal of the game, but Kerns’ 44-yard attempt with 43 seconds left on the clock was wide left.
“The Florida state playoffs, you’re going to play a lot more than 48 minutes it seems, and tonight, we just didn’t finish out on top,” Volz said.
Contact Jen Blanco at [email protected].
BR 0 0 7 7 0 — 14
LW 7 0 0 7 7 — 21
LW — Kevin Prioleau 2 run (Marcelo Bonani kick), 9:56
BR — Ty Williams 30 fumble recover (Kadin Kerns kick), 7:08
BR — Ryan Fischer 2 run (Kerns kick), 11:50
LW — Javess Blue 76 pass from Justin Shafer (Bonani kick), 7:12
LW — Shafer 1 run (Bonani kick)