Earlier in the week Bulloch Academy head coach Terence Hennessy said “We’ve told our kids you are playing 48 minutes in order to get a chance to play another 48 minutes, plain and simple.”
Friday night in Bellville it took exactly 48 minutes to decide the outcome of the game as Bulloch Academy got a 28-yard field goal by Seth Brandt as time expired for a 45-42 Gator victory.
“We knew this going to be a war,” said Hennessy. “The way we play, the way they play, but our kids gave us all they could the entire game. I can’t say enough for these seniors, it’s the first time they have ever beaten Pinewood.”
It didn’t start out too promising for the Gators as Pinewood jumped out to a 14-0 first quarter lead, only to see the Gators score 28 unanswered points to grab a 28-14 halftime lead.
“They are a very good 2-7 football team,” said Hennessy, “They are only a couple plays away from being 5-5 or 6-3. This is a rivalry game and this is the way rivalry games are suppose to be.”
The back and forth action was fast and furious with the Patriots scoring 14 straight points to open the third quarter to tie the game at 28-28. The two teams then traded touchdowns in the fourth quarter before Brandt’s game winner split the uprights as the horn sounded and time expired.
“I don’t even know how to describe how I feel,” said Brandt, “It’s just an overwhelming sense of emotion. I’ve gotten so many hugs, I don’t know how to explain it.”
Trailing 14-0 Bulloch Academy quarterback Don Aaron took over. Aaron scored on a 39-yard run to cut the lead to 14-7. Next up Aaron added a five-yard run to tie the game early in the second quarter. Brandon Merrill added a 19-yard touchdown to give the Gators a 21-14 lead, and then Aaron hit Billy Tillman down the sidelines for a 53-yard touchdown and a 28-14 Bulloch Academy halftime lead.
In the second half the Patriots once again scored 14 quick points to tie the game at 28-28 but on the first Gator play from scrimmage in the fourth quarter Ty Mingle took off cutting across the field and outrunning the Patriot defenders for an 80-yard touchdown to put the Gators up 35-28.
Pinewood came back once again on a Jeffrey Young 11-yard score to tie it at 35-35 with just under four minutes to play. Ty Mingle received the ensuing kick on the Gator five yard line and proceeded to weave his way through traffic for a 95-yard touchdown and a 42-35 Gator lead. The Patriots came right back again though scoring a two-yard Logan Lewis touchdown to tie the game at 42-42 with just under a minute to play.
The Gators then marched down field with the biggest play of the drive coming on 30-yard pass from Don Aaron to Ford Wildes that took the Gators down to the Pinewood 11-yard line with six seconds left. The Patriots proceeded to use their final two timeouts to try and ice Gator kicker Seth Brandt, but to no avail as Brandts kick was straight down the middle with plenty of room to spare for the final score of 45-42.
“It’s a 48 minute fight,“ said Hennessy, “ they punched us, we punched them right back, we go back and forth and we just had enough left there at the end to kick that field goal.”
Don Aaron led the Gators with 161 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 15 carries and was 9-of-11 passing for 149 yards and one touchdown.
The win gave the Gators the third seed in the upcoming state playoffs and they will travel to Deerfield Windsor next week in Albany for a 7:30 kickoff.