PHOTO GALLERY 1: Barron Collier vs. Lely photo gallery from news-press.com
PHOTO GALLERY 2: Barron Collier vs. Lely photo gallery from news-press.com
NAPLES — Things looked bleak for Barron Collier. Down two scores to Lely in the second half and down to their third-string quarterback with their season on the line.
The third-string quarterback never panicked. Matt Novak was prepared for this moment.
“It’s real funny,” Novak said. “Last night when I was going to sleep, I was going over the game in my head and thinking, ‘I’m probably going in (the game) in the fourth quarter, and we’re going to be losing by a couple points.’ I was ready.”
Novak ended up looking like a prophet. The junior took over at QB in the fourth quarter with Barron Collier trailing 27-16. Performing like a seasoned veteran, he led the Cougars on two scoring drives in three minutes. Barron Collier erased a 14-point deficit by scoring 25 straight points in the second half and winning 38-27.
With the win, the Cougars claimed the Class 3A-District 12 championship and eliminated Lely from postseason contention. Lehigh beat Cypress Lake on Friday to finish runner-up in the district and earn the league’s second regional playoff berth.
Barron Collier (8-1, 5-1) scored 22 points in an eight-minute span in the fourth quarter, all with Novak at the helm. After not attempting a pass all season, Novak completed 3 of 4. All of his completions came on third down and successfully kept the touchdown drives alive.
The Cougars will host South Fort Myers, runner-up in 3A-11, in the regional quarterfinals Nov. 20. Lehigh will play at Riverdale.
“There was no losing for us,” said tight end Jeff Heuerman, who caught two of Novak’s third-down completions. “(Novak) throws the ball great. He stepped up big-time for not playing (much). I don’t remember the last time he went in at quarterback.”
It was a heart-breaking end to Lely’s season. The Trojans will miss the playoffs after two district losses in which they were up by two scores in the fourth quarter.
Lely scored on its first possession of the second half, a 9-yard touchdown pass from Sean O’Regan to Romanthi Mathurin. It was O’Regan’s third TD pass of the game and it put the Trojans up 27-13.
The Trojans also led late in a loss to Lehigh before giving up two touchdowns in the final minutes.
“Both (losses) we led by 11 points (in the fourth quarter),” Lely coach Dave Miller said. “I don’t know if it’s déjà vu or what. It’s definitely disappointing.”
After Lely went up 14 points, the Cougars began capitalizing on Trojans errors.
Barron Collier got a field goal from Marvin Kloss late in the third quarter after Lely fumbled a punt at its own 11-yard line. Joey Lohmann then intercepted a Sean O’Regan pass on Lely’s next possession, leading to a 3-yard touchdown run from Matt Gerhardstein.
The Cougars held Lely to three-and-out on the next possession, but Trojan punter Ben Jean’s kick went just 11 yards. On the next play, Barron’s Torrey Campbell went around the right side for a 35-yard score to give the Cougars a 31-27 lead.
“We came out a little shaky, a little nervous because it’s a big game,” senior linebacker Jury Paulson said about the Barron defense. “We just started putting it together in the second half. We knew what we had to do to get the win.”
Lely erased a deficit of its own in the second quarter. Barron Collier scored on its first two possessions to take an early 10-0 lead. The Trojans responded with three straight scores — two passes from O’Regan to Rodain Delus and an 82-yard run from Darion Hall — to go up 21-10.
The Trojans finished with a season-high 453 yards of offense, including 265 passing yards from O’Regan. After scoring on its first possession of the second half, however, Lely managed just 63 more yards the rest of the game.
“We just didn’t get the job done,” Miller said. “For about three quarters we did a good job. Those two turnovers kills you and gives them the momentum.”
When Lely couldn’t convert on fourth down with 1:21 left to play, the Barron Collier players lifted the Gatorade bucket on the sideline and went searching for coach Mark Ivey. After dousing the coach – who has led the Cougars to district championships each of his first three seasons at the school – the team began celebrating the school’s seventh title.
Before Ivey arrived, Barron Collier had won four district championships in 30 seasons. The Cougars now have won three straight, the first time they have ever won consecutive titles.
“Ever since the big guy showed up, Barron Collier has been on a roll,” Paulson said, affectionately referring to his head coach. “It’s a new BC era.”
* * *
BARRON COLLIER 38, LELY 27
Barron Collier 10 3 3 22 — 38
Lely 7 14 6 0 — 27
BC: Kloss 41 FG, 9:19.
BC: Higgins 24 pass from Gomez (Kloss kick), 3:23.
L: Delus 19 pass from O’Regan (Bedolla kick), 0:00.
L: Delus 24 pass from O’Regan (Bedolla kick), 3:38.
L: Hall 82 run (Bedolla kick), 1:55.
BC: Kloss 30 FG, 0:14.
L: Mathurin 9 pass from O’Regan (kick failed), 7:32.
BC: Kloss 32 FG, 2:57.
BC: Gerhardstein 3 run (Novak run), 10:11.
BC: Campbell 35 run (Kloss kick), 9:33.
BC: Gerhardstein 6 run (Kloss kick), 2:23.
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