The Frostproof Bulldog shook off a sluggish first half, and rallied with big plays in the second half to defeat the Sebring Blue Streaks 19-8 in non-district high school action Friday night.
It was the second win in as many regular season starts for Frostproof, which was on the road last week as well in shutting out Avon Park, 27-0.
This one was much tougher.
Frostproof put together its best and most energetic possession of the young season midway through the third quarter, and that swung momentum the Bulldogs way.
Starting at their own 25, Frostproof freshman quarterback Xavier Gaines scrambled for 15, and then found Kaleel Gaines on the near sideline on a 3rd-and-15 play. He made a low, diving catch, just staying in bounds, and had just enough yardage for a first down at the Sebring 30. Cecil Cherry then took over, bursting off right tackle for 23 yards to the Blue Streak 3. Three plays later, Cherry did the honors from two yards out. The strange PAT run attempt failed, but Frostproof led 13-7 with six seconds to play in the third period.
That seemed to fire up the Bulldog defense, which threw Sebring backwards 13 yards in three plays on the host’s ensuing possession.
After the punt, Frostproof started at the Sebring 38 and drove inside the 25, but was stopped on an interception that was returned to the 38. But the Bulldogs took the ball right back as Kaleel Gaines jumped on a fumble on Sebring’s first play at the Blue Streak 45. On the very next play, Trevis Herrington, one his first of two carries on the night, burst up the middle and outran the secondary all the way to pay dirt. The PAT again failed, but Frostproof led 19-8 with 8:29 left to play.
Neither team was especially sharp on the offensive side in the first two quarters.
Sebring opened the scoring midway through the first quarter thanks to a Bulldogs special teams miscue. A blocked punt put the hosts on offense at the Frostproof 30. After a first down at the Bulldog 18, Sam Hamilton burst up the middle to drop Gayle for a three-yard loss. That eventually led to the drive stalling, but Hunter Livingston kicked the ball 38 yards, on a 37-yard field goal try, to put Sebring on top 3-0 with 4:29 to play in the first.
The Frostproof offense struggled mightily early on, managing just three-and-out series on their first three possession. That actually led to Sebring’s second score of the night when a punt snap sailed over the kicker’s head and out of the end zone for a safety and a 5-0 Sebring lead with 11:13 to play in the half.
Sebring was content to try and chew up yardage and the clock, opening the game with 14 consecutive running plays. Their first pass was a completion at the Frostproof 26 midway through the second quarter on the drive ensuing the safety.
However, that scoring threat was snuffed when Kijana Gaines jumped on a bad snap from center and recovered the fumble at the Blue Streak 15. It looked like the offense was still in neutral until on a third-and 15 play, Xavier Gaines connected with Kaleel Gaines on a 50 yard bomb. Kaleel got his feet tangled with the Sebring defensive back as the ball was in the air, and caught the pass as he was falling to the turf. A 12-yard completion to Marcus Bobb put the Bulldog offense at the Sebring 23, and two plays later, Xavier Gaines went virtually untouched up the middle on a keeper for Frostproof’s first points of the night. Lamar Bobb added the extra point, and Frostproof had its first lead, 7-5, with 3:52 to go before intermission.
The lead was short lived however, as a kickoff return to the Bulldog 41 gave Sebring another scoring chance. The drive eventually stalled, and Livingston was called on again to try a 48-yarder. It went 48 yards, hitting the crossbar and going over it for a field goal with 17 seconds left in the second quarter, putting Sebring back on top 8-7 at the break.
The Blue Streaks entered last night’s contest, which also was their home opener, after falling last week at Desoto, 24-6.
The Bulldogs, now 2-0, will finally get back home next Friday to Faris Brannen Stadium for their home opener against Desoto. Kick off will be at 7 p.m.