The Thunder lost to Gateway Charter thanks to turnovers and big plays.
The Out-of-Door Academy (6-3) entered its first-round Sunshine State Athletic Conference playoff game with a better record than Gateway Charter (5-4), but it was the Thunder that made mistakes it couldn't afford to make.
Those mistakes led to a 35-19 loss to the Griffins, ending ODA's season.
It started promising. ODA senior running back Colin Castro capped a quick opening drive with a goal line touchdown run, but the Thunder opted to go for two on a fake instead of kick an extra point, and failed. It was that kind of night for ODA: every step closer to a win led to a step backward.
ODA coach Chris Kempton said the loss could be chalked up to the Thunder's turnovers — there were five, including four interceptions — and the Griffins' big plays, some of which happened on special teams, like a second-half-opening, 90-yard kickoff return touchdown from junior Ja’Daniel Leaphart.
Castro finished with 128 rushing yards and all three of the team's touchdowns. Defensively, junior cornerback Nolan Lewellen had two interceptions, one in the end zone, helping to keep the Thunder in the game.
Gateway Charter will now play Master's Academy (6-2) in Oviedo.