ORLANDO – Wake me up, honey, I think I'm dreaming. Well, after last night's semifinal game between No. 2 Lakeland and No. 3 Jacksonville Bolles, a record crowd of 77,354 watched one of the best games of the year take place at the Citrus Bowl.
If you are into reality, this game wasn't for you, but if you like a little fantasy in your life, you couldn't have asked for more as the second semifinal contest in the 2004 www.floridakids.us Fantasy Football State Championship took place as Bolles scored with 3 seconds left to leave Orlando and head toward Miami's Orange Bowl on Sunday to face off with Seffner Armwood for the "state championship".
The 30-27 final score tells what happened, but the way it went down will have Bolles fans screaming and leave Lakeland faithful shaking their collective heads in what really was a tale of two halves.
In the first quarter, the Dreadnaughts jumped out in front on a 21-yard run by talented sophomore Chris Rainey at the 5:21 mark. Rainey would end up with 154 yards and two scores in the first half before twisting an ankle and being forced from the game.
The Dreadnaughts (19-1) went ahead 14-0 at the 1:21 mark after Kendrick Stewart recovered a Max Higgs fumble. Senior quarterback Chris Griffin went over right tackle from the 2 and William Chappel hit his second extra point.
Just as it appeared that the Bulldogs would get back in the game, Riley Skinner's pass, intended for Rocky Ross, deflected off his shoulder and into the hands of junior Andre Walker who took it back 77 yards for the score. The point after failed and the Dreadnaughts were cruising toward the Orange Bowl and the long-awated matchup with Armwood.
With 2:45 left in the half, Lakeland went ahead 27-0 when Rainey went off left tackle and leaped into the endzone. Unfortunately, as he was going in for the score, Rainey's ankle got caught on the turf and was carried from the field.
As the teams came out for the second half, Rainey was nowhere to be found. He was taken to the hospital where x-rays would reveal a bad sprain.
Without the gifted back in the lineup, coach Bill Castle relied on senior fullback Steve Chancey.
In the start of the third quarter, it was evident, even with a 27-0 lead, this was not the same Lakeland team we saw in the first half. On their first possession, Griffin was picked off by Daniel Zvara who brought it back into Lakeland territory. With 5:23 left, Skinner hit Ross for a 27-yard score. Wayne Ferguson's point after cut the lead to 27-7.
As the offense started to wakeup, the defense did as well. Michael Garcia, Jericho Weitzel and John Russell stopped the Dreadnaughts on the ground and the Bulldogs got the ball back.
With 2:09 remaining, it was Skinner again who found a wide open John Philpot, who took it in from the 43 and the lead was cut to 27-14.
As the fourth quarter began, the momentum was still in the favor of Bolles as Ferguson booted field goals of 29 and 44, cutting the lead to 27-20 with under 5 minutes left.
Lakeland's slump appeared to be ending when Griffin fired a 78-yard scoring strike to sophomore Paul Wilson, but the play was called back for a motion penalty. That was the final straw for a team that was already back on its collective heels.
The Bulldogs got the ball back with less than 3 minutes to play, and on the very first play, Ross took an end around handoff and went 76 yards. The extra point tied the game with 2:40 left.
With all three timeouts left, Bolles would get the ball back with under 1 minute left, on their own 23 with no timeouts. Lakeland then called a timeout to talk over strategy.
On first down, Skinner's pass was knocked down at the line by sophomore John Brown. On second down, Skinner's pass was complete for 20 yards to tight end Colin Peek. With 37 seconds left, Skinner found Shaun Chapas for 17 more down to the Lakeland 43.
With the clock stopped after the out-of-bounds play, the Bulldogs then came up with the play of the game. With the clock reading :25 seconds, Skinner's pass over the middle was tipped by Deonte Parker into the hands of Ross, who made a diving grab at the 17. As Lakeland coaches yelled to get the attention of the referees, the Dreadnaughts called timeout.
Castle and his staff rushed to the middle of the field to point out where they felt Ross had trapped the ball. They felt that Ross never had control of the ball. The stadium replay showed the same thing, but the officials did not overturn the decision.
With no timeout left and the ball to the right side, Skinner handed the ball to Higgs who moved the ball to the middle of the field. As Bulldog players rushed back to the line of scrimmage, Skinner spiked the ball with just 3 seconds showing on the stadium clock.
Still disgusted, Lakeland called its final timeout and continued to scream at the officials, who were from West Palm Beach. They also wanted to make Ferguson, a senior who had made just two field goals all season, think about his third attempt of the day.
As Ferguson approached the ball, he looked up at the goalpost and then stroked it right through. The Bulldogs had pulled off a stunner as they head to Miami to take on Seffner Armwood in the 2004 www.floridakids.us Fantasy Football State Championship on Sunday!
FLORIDA KIDS FANTASY STATE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
Sunday, Jan. 2, Orange Bowl, Miami.
3. Jacksonville Bolles (19-0) vs. 1. Seffner Armwood (18-1, 19-0 on the field)