DELRAY BEACH — Trailing American Heritage, 7-0, the Lemon Bay football team picked up a key 4th down and 5 on its way to a 1-yard touchdown by Jason Hogan.
“I thought, ‘Well here we go,’” Lemon Bay coach Don Southwell said. “But then we made some mistakes. And they have guys all over the field.”
Lemon Bay wouldn’t score again for the rest of the game as the Stallions built up a big first-half lead on the way to a 49-7 running-clock finish at Scott Mauer Memorial Field.
A few plays after Lemon Bay (8-2) tied the game, Stallions wide receiver Brandon Schabert broke free down the middle of the field for an uncovered 68-yard touchdown — the second of three first-half scores by Schabert.
Hogan then fumbled the ball on the first play of the ensuing drive and American Heritage took advantage of the mistake — scoring on a 6-yard keeper by quarterback Dylan Rizk.
“The turnover on our side of the field hurt,” said Southwell. “Then it’s 21-7 instead of us driving and maybe making it 14-14. That was certainly hard to come back from.”
Key plays: Austin Andrle hit Aaron Pasick for 7 yards on 4th and 5 on the Mantas’ only scoring drive of the game. The pass kept the drive going and set up Lemon Bay with a first and goal.
However, Schabert was a mismatch for the Lemon Bay defense. The FAU commit caught seven passes for 183 yards and three touchdowns — all three scores in the first half.
Hogan’s fumble on the Lemon Bay 18-yard-line blew the game open for American Heritage. The Stallions scored soon after the turnover to make it 21-7.
Rizk hit Schabert for a 35-yard score as the first half expired — a costly mistake that put the Mantas behind, 34-7, at halftime.
Key stats: American Heritage threw all over the Mantas defense. Rizk completed 16-of-24 passes for 343 yards, 5 passing touchdowns and 1 rushing touchdown.
Andrle completed 4-of-12 passes for 25 yards and an interception.
What it means: Lemon Bay still has not won a second-round playoff game as the Mantas were unable to advance to the regional final for the first time in program history. However, the Mantas got their first playoff win under Southwell and appear to be building in the right direction toward 2021.
Quote: “Any time you set out to do anything, it doesn’t matter what it is, and you don’t accomplish it, that hurts. (Our bond) isn’t going to help tonight. We hurt.
“But like I was saying to them, ‘The sun is gonna come up, the pain’s gonna go away, the tears are gonna dry up and you’re gonna look with clear eyes and go wow, we were 0-7 at one point last year and we were 8-1 with a chance to go to the regional final. It didn’t work out, but there was no quit in our guys.” — Southwell