The Lely players, coaches and fans went from an ultimate high to an equally ultimate low in the Trojans 20-17 loss to Lehigh on Friday night.
In the last three games the Trojans have played with fire by making mental mistakes, penalties and interceptions.
All three contributed to their loss.
The loss was even more significant as it was a Class 3A-District 12 defeat. It was a game they needed to win and didn’t.
Lehigh came in with an 0-4 mark, but played much better than their record. They also never quit trying. Can’t say that Lely did either, but they lost a game most expected to be a win.
Now the Trojans are in a hole that may already mean their playoff hopes are over.
Instead of 2-0 in the district, the Trojans are 1-1, 2-3 on the season. They still have to battle powerhouses Barron Collier and Naples. To be in contention the Trojans would have liked to be without a district loss going into those games.
The Trojans are home Friday night against East Lee, a new addition to the district that Lely should defeat.
Then they travel to Naples for the annual Coconut Bowl on Friday, Oct. 16. They play at Barron for their last regular season game on Nov. 11. It will be the week after Barron and Naples battle for what could be the district championship and the second seed for the playoffs.
Barron and Naples are 2-0 each in district play. Strange things can happen, like they seem to where Lely is concerned, but for Lely to beat both will have to be under a huge full moon.
First though Miller has to right his ship before it sinks.
At times on Friday night, the defense looked incredible, but like other games they gave up two big plays that accounted for touchdowns. And like the last two games, they had little rushing offense.
With Lely leading, 17-12 with seven minutes left in the game, quarterback Sean O’Regan threw an interception. Lehigh’s Mark Simmons carried the ball to the Lely nine-yard line.
Three times the Trojans D stopped the run. With the ball near the goal line, Lehigh was called for moving before the snap, putting the ball back at the six yard-line. Forgoing the pass, which had accounted for an earlier touchdown, Lehigh ran again and Lely stopped them again, on the two-yard line with under four minutes left.
The coaches, players and fans went wild. It had been a gargantuan stand that surely would lead to a victory, but no.
The Trojans tried to kill the clock with three quarterback sneaks. With a yard to go for a first down, Lely coaches chose to punt.
Ben Jean who uses a run and punt technique, and has been successful, was not on this punt. The ball landed out of bounds at the Lely 33. There was 1:31 left in the game, but Lehigh needed only seconds.
Wide receiver Markeese Brantley jumped higher than the shorter Lely defensive player for the winning score. A successful two-point run conversion gave Lehigh a 20-17 lead.
Lely got the ball for one more drive, but did little, with the final pass dropping woefully short of the intended receiver.
Lely’s offensive line only had two returners to start the season. Center Max Tyler injured his right knee and has missed the last two games. Nick Thorstenson, tight end, has done well, but the rest of the line hasn’t meshed.
Lely’s Darian Hall led the area in rushing a year ago, averaging nearly 10 yards a carry. On Friday night he had just 50 yards on 14 tries and Frankie Pugh just three yards on nine tries. O’Regan ran three times for nine yards, meaning the overall rushing amounted to 62 yards. And that is 10 yards better than the week before.
Lehigh spied on Hall the entire game, sending eight and nine rushers to the ball. Hall was stopped in the backfield on some of his runs. O’Regan completed 10 of 18 for 83 yards, including a 28-yard touchdown pass to Ben Jean. Jean also boomed a 45-yard field goal in the second quarter to break a 0-0 game.
Makinton Dorleant thrilled the Lely fans with a 93-yard kickoff return to open the second half and give Lely a 10-0 lead.
Lely’s defense was pumped, holding Lehigh to third down and long, then the penalty. A Lely defensive player was called for grabbing the runner’s face mask for a 15-yard penalty and a first down. It kept the drive alive for Lehigh’s first score.
Lehigh’s second score came just one minute after Lely’s fourth quarter score. The Lely defensive player was out of position and the speedy Barton took the pass in full stride, outracing him for an 88-yard touchdown.
As hard as Lely plays, there is no consistency. If there was the Trojans could be 4-1, not 2-3 on the season.
Lely hosts another district opponent in East Lee on Friday night. East Lee will be coming off a 34-6 spanking by 5-0 Barron Collier.