By Brittany Llorente
SEBASTIAN - The Sebastian River High School Sharks squeezed by with a win against the Olympic Heights Academy Lions last Friday at the Shark's home field, 17-14.
The start of the game was rocky for both teams. The Sharks intercepted the Lions at the 10-yard line and then the Lions fumbled at the 22-yard line. The Sharks' bright hopes for the game were dimmed with a missed field goal from Aaron Roberson.
The Lions Khalid Iqab missed the next field goal and at the end of the first quarter, no points were put on the board.
The Lions next drive was a 13-plays ending with a touchdown from John Cleristor. The extra point from Iqab gave the Lions a 7-point lead.
Swimming for a touchdown, the sharks made quick use of the 4:43 left on the clock. The opening 72-yard return from Nate Pryor brought the Sharks within field goal range. After three plays no progress past the line of scrimmage, the Sharks were forced to attempt a field goal.
The Lions roughed the snapper on the missed field goal attempt and the penalty brought the Sharks half the distance to the goal and an automatic first down. The Sharks made good use of the penalty and Octavia Jefferson scored a touchdown at 2:18. The extra point from Roberson tied the game going into the half.
"They did a great job," Lions coach Kevin Fleury said. "We roughed the snapper and special teams for us fell apart. We have to clean up the little things."
Coach Randy Bethel fired up his players during the half and in the first drive Octavia Jefferson scored his second touchdown of the night bringing the Sharks to 14-7 with the extra point.
The Lions were snapping at the Sharks' fins, but a few mistakes, a fumbled ball and a sack on Lions quarterback Richard Thompson, ended the Lions drive.
During the Sharks' drive to move the ball downfield, Sharks quarterback Hakeem Rainey was picked off by Lion Deago Sama near the Lions' 10-yard line and ran the ball for 22 yards to the 32-yard line. Three plays later, the Lions tied the game 14-14 with a touchdown to Deago Sama.
The fourth quarter was all about time management. With the game tied, too much time given after turning the ball over on a touchdown or downs would give the other team time to score.
The Sharks tried for a 50-yard field goal, but it was hooked left and put back into the Lions hands.
"Olympic Heights is the most improved team I have seen," said Coach Bethel. "They came out trying and trying."
The Sharks second drive in the fourth ran down the clock, but they were unable to get a touchdown. The field goal points and the game win relied on Roberson, who missed all of his field goal attempts for the night.
"I trusted in Roberson 100 percent," said Coach Bethel. "I trusted in him just as much at that point as I did at the beginning of the game. (Roberson) is a good kid and not a lot shakes him."
The Sharks held their breath as the field goal attempt was made and the 17-14 lead was theirs.
"I kept missing them and kept missing them and coach said 'this is the one that counts, you need to make this one,'" said Roberson, who is actually a soccer player who was recruited by the football team for his leg. "I had to focus on the ball and the next kick."
With 3:16 left in the quarter, the Lions were held back by the Sharks' defense, which was determined to hang onto the lead. The Sharks took the ball back at 1:24 in the fourth and ran down the clock.
"Time management is absolutely key," Coach Bethel said. "I think what helped us was that they had to spend their timeouts early. We ended up with no timeouts and we still had two left, which is uncharacteristic of me, and it gave us the opportunity to run down and beat up the clock a little bit."
Sebastian River will play Port St. Lucie High School at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 12.