SARASOTA — Whether he’s hauling in touchdown passes or tackling opponents in the backfield, Out-of-Door Academy senior tight end and defensive end Jamie Onufrak has a knack for being in the right place at the right time.
Such was the case last Friday night when Onufrak pounced on a loose football at the Bradenton Christian 20-yard line, setting up an eventual 30-yard field goal by junior kicker Jeff Young.
The turnover proved to be the key play in the game as ODA went on to defeat rival Bradenton Christian 17-7 in Class 1B-District 6 action Oct. 23 during the school’s Homecoming game at Twin Lakes Park in Sarasota.
With the win, ODA (6-1, 3-0), who has now won all five meetings between the two schools, handed the Panthers (7-1, 2-1) their first loss of the season and vaulted past Bradenton Christian for sole possession of first place in the district.
“The win against Bradenton Christian helps our program because it allows us to control our destiny,” ODA coach Brett Timmons said. “We are now in sole possession of first place in our district with the possibility of hosting a district game. Last Friday’s game was huge in that aspect.”
ODA took a 7-0 lead in the second quarter on an 11-yard touchdown run by senior running back AJ Strong. Bradenton Christian responded with a touchdown of its own when freshman backup quarterback Myles Braxton-Johnson connected with senior Egan Fridenberg for a 31-yard touchdown to tie the game at 7-7.
The Thunder and the Panthers remained deadlocked heading into the fourth quarter when Onufrak recovered the fumble, setting up Young’s 30-yard field goal. Strong added another touchdown in the fourth quarter to secure the victory for the Thunder.
Strong carried the ball 29 times for 137 yards and two scores. Defensively, Jon Grathwohl had two sacks for the Thunder.
With only two district games remaining — Moore Haven and Saint Stephen’s — ODA now controls its own destiny. The Thunder return to district action tomorrow night versus Moore Haven. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
Last week, Moore Haven (4-4, 0-3) suffered a 46-30 loss to St. John Neumann, which ODA beat 6-0 earlier this season.
“We know that we have to remain focused and finish the race,” Timmons said. “Moore Haven and Saint Stephen’s are both formidable foes, and we will have to be well prepared to deal with both of them in the upcoming weeks.”
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