When a second-year program goes up against a first-year program, that additional year of experience sometimes can make all the difference in the world.
That seemed to be the case Friday night when Frederica Academy beat First Presbyterian Christian Academy, 38-15, at Long Bell Stadium.
The second-year Knights’ roster was twice the size of the first-year Highlanders’. But as the team has done all year, FPCA played hard and refused to quit.
If not for two turnovers by FPCA that led to Frederica scores, the score might even have been a little closer. The Knights weren’t looking past the winless Highlanders, either.
“I was talking to their coach after the game and he said the one thing they noticed about us by watching us on film is that they saw we were getting better each game and they were concerned about this game,” FPCA football coach Andy Yanzetich said. “Every play meant something to them and they didn’t take away any plays because they knew we were that athletic.”
The first turnover came on the Highlanders’ first possession, when a Frederica defender stepped in front of Domonique Kirkley’s pass, picked it off and gave the Knights possession at the FPCA 30. They scored three plays later to go up 7-0.
FPCA shrugged it off, scoring on the team’s next possession on a 34-yard pass from Kirkley to Herbert Roberts.
The drive was set up on a kickoff return after a key block from Trey Harris sprang Chris Guilfo out to the Highlanders’ 42. Big runs from DeAngelo Streeter and Roberts put the Highlanders on the Knights’ 29-yard line, but a sack and a penalty backed them up.
Facing 4th-and-long, FPCA coaches decided to go for it and Kirkley launched a Hail Mary pass to the corner of the end zone and into Roberts’ hands.
But the 7-7 tie didn’t last long. Frederica scored on its next possession and by halftime the visitors led 28-7 — the last score coming after Frederica recovered a Highlander fumble at the FPCA 32.
The Highlanders’ defense began to buckle down in the third quarter and Roberts killed a Frederica drive with an interception at FPCA’s 25. But the Highlanders couldn’t capitalize on the opportunity and punted.
The Knights marched down field again before settling for a 37-yard field goal to go up 31-7.
In the fourth quarter, FPCA’s Roberts hit Guilfo for a 27-yard pass completion to put the Highlanders near midfield. After two runs put the ball at the Frederica 35, Guilfo caught a screen pass and scrambled in for the TD. FPCA converted the two-point try and pulled to within 31-15.
The Knights added a late touchdown to go up 38-15, but the Highlanders kept fighting and with less than two minutes left moved the ball down to the Knights’ 25.
After a penalty backed FPCA up to the 40, Highlander Matt Lormis tried to save a busted play and ran down the Frederica 5-yard line before he was hit from behind and the ball came loose.
The Knights’ recovered and ran out the clock.
“It was a broken play and Matt Lormis picked it up and took off and gained about 30 yards and he got snapped from behind. It was one of those things where he was trying to make a big play and the next thing you know they get him from behind,” Yanzetich said. “But he’s been working hard and plays hard just like everyone else we have on this team.”