GREEN COVE SPRINGS — The importance of extra points and 2-point conversions finally caught up to Lakewood. A missed extra point and four failed run/pass attempts on conversions left points on the field and in the end will be what’s left to ponder what could’ve been, as Green Cove Springs Clay took advantage and defeated Lakewood 40-38 in a Class 5A state semifinal matchup.
“Small things that are a lot of times forgotten about. You know like the holder or the snapper or the timing and it came back to bite us at the time when we really, really needed it,” Lakewood coach Cory Moore said. “I think (Clay) did a good job of being physical with us up front.”
Both teams exchanged turnovers on their opening possessions, with Clay fumbling the ball and Lakewood’s Ryan Davis tossing an interception inside of the red zone. The Blue Devils opened up the scoring on a dazzling 63-yard scamper by quarterback Wes Weeks, who had 21 carries for 179 yards, to put Clay (10-4) up 7-0.
Lakewood (10-4) responded quickly with a score of its own, as running back Romello Presley (9 carries, 46 yards) barreled his way in from 13 yards out. The Spartans scored again early in the second quarter off a Donterrio Fowler 4-yard TD run and seemingly took a bit of a stranglehold on the game when Davis (139 yards, 3 TDs) scored on a 26-yard run to put Lakewood up 20-7 with 7:28 left in the second quarter.
The Blue Devils never wavered during the second period and added two touchdowns, the latter being a 14-yard jet sweep score by running back JT Turner (5 carries, 46 yards), who tied the game at 20 with 10.6 seconds left before intermission. Clay racked up 185 yards off 26 attempts by halftime, with Lakewood gaining 150 on 15 carries.
Both teams exchanged scores in the third quarter, with the contest being tied at 26 heading into the final period. Clay kept the ball on the ground and basically ran at will against Lakewood’s front seven, as the Blue Devils amassed 388 yards off 62 carries for the game and only attempted one pass, which went incomplete, in the second half.
The Blue Devils relied upon the running of senior tailback Bilal Ally, who tallied 113 tough yards on 23 attempts, in the final period as the bruising back scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns, including the game-winning 3-yard run with less than five minutes remaining.
Davis made a last-ditch effort to tie the game for Lakewood, as the junior quarterback scored on a 15-yard scramble, which Lakewood was still down 40-38 and needed to convert on the ensuing 2-point attempt. Joc Ellison’s pass, though, would get intercepted and end the Spartans’ dream of a state championship berth.
“I feel very bad for them,” Davis said of Lakewood’s seniors. “I wish I could’ve done more. I did all I could. It was their last time out here and I really feel for them.”
Correspondent Andy Villamarzo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @avillamarzo.
Lakewood 6 14 6 12 — 38
Clay 7 13 6 14 — 40
C - Weeks 63 run (Esquivel kick)
L - Presley 13 run (pass failed)
L - Fowler 4 run (pass failed)
L - Davis 26 run (Fowler run)
C - Ally 33 pass from Weeks (kick failed)
C - Turner 14 run (Esquivel kick)
L - Boykins 69 pass from Davis (kick failed)
C - Ally 5 run (run failed)
C - Ally 18 run (Esquivel kick)
L - Davis 53 run (run failed)
C - Ally 3 run (Esquivel kick)
L - Davis 15 run (pass failed)