Class 5A Regional Final: Lake Wales Falls Behind By 21 in First Half, Can't Rally
Fri. November 30, 2012 at 11:42 p.m. | By Solange Reyner
LAKE WALES QUARTERBACK RAILOND GARRETT reacts after being sacked during Friday night's game. (Photo by (KINFAY MOROTI | FORT MYERS NEWS-PRESS))
By SOLANGE REYNER
IMMOKALEE | Lake Wales' football squad marched into the locker room at halftime with their heads down.
They had just been rocked by Immokalee in the first two quarters of the Class 5A regional final and nothing was going right on either side of the ball.
Head coach Rod Shafer told his kids to keep fighting, to win the second half and things would look up.
The Highlanders did, getting big plays from quarterback Railond Garrett down the stretch.
But Immokalee stepped it up when it needed to, proving Lake Wales' effort as too little and too late as the Indians won 38-21 on Friday night to end Lake Wales' season.
After going down 28-7 at the half, Lake Wales made it a game late on the shoulders of Garrett. He ran in a 1-yard touchdown with 2:22 left in the third after marching the team 72 yards and then found Tony Reeves for a 19-yard score midway through the fourth that made it Immokalee 31, Lake Wales 21 with just over 5 minutes remaining.
The defense was playing solid through that point in the second half, mostly on big plays by linebacker David Jones, lineman Bendly Jean and cornerback Darion Staten.
Jones helped keep Immokalee's potent running game in check and Staten swiped the ball from Alexander at the Lake Wales goal line late in the third quarter after quarterback Tshumbi Johnson tossed it to him. He returned it to Immokalee's 28-yard line and the Highlanders took advantage, scoring on the run by Garrett.
Lake Wales thought it could continue to shift momentum in its favor.
But the Indians (10-3) had other ideas.
Immokalee twice stuffed Lake Wales at the 1-yard line with 9:33 left to play, a score that would have made it 31-21 (and later 31-28 on the touchdown pass from Garrett to Reeves) and its offense stepped up big with 2:22 left in the contest.
That's when J.C. Jackson took a 10-yard screen pass 65 yards for a score on third-and-11, putting the game out of reach.
"We kept fighting," Jones said. "Our team has a lot of heart and we showed that."
Lake Wales made big mistakes in the first half, errors that included blown coverages and poor tackling. Most of that happened because the Highlanders were missing injured starters Jonte Sergeant, Jermel Moment and Justin Henderson.
"All those guys are key factors for us," Jones said.
Immokalee took advantage, pounding touchdown after touchdown down Lake Wales' throats.
There was the thunderous 80-yard touchdown pass from D'ernest Johnson to Jackson on the first play of the game.
"D'ernest sold that play well and the guys executed," Immokalee head coach Jerrod Ackley said. It was a halfback pass thrown by Johnson, the brother of quarterback Tshumbi Johnson, and Lake Wales' defense mistook it for a run play.
Eight minutes later came another big play, this time a 62-yard touchdown run down the right side by Mackensie Alexander.
"It kept going," Lake Wales Rod Shafer said.
The teams shared three-and-outs before the Indians' next big play.
Javon Alberique recovered a fumbled punt that put Immokalee on Lake Wales' 36-yard line and Alexander scored seven plays later on a 15-yard reverse around the right side.
Tshumbi Johnson added a 1-yard run for good measure just before the half, making it 28-7 at the half.
Immokalee 14 7 3 7 — 38
Lake Wales 0 7 7 7 — 21
I — JC Jackson 80 pass from D'ernest Johnson (Jesus Velazco kick)
IM — McKenzie Alexander 62 run (Velasco kick), 3:14.
IM — Alexander 15 run (Velasco kick), 9:30.
LW — Railond Garrett 2 run (Tate Mathewson kick), 7:33.
IM — Tshumbi Johnson 1 run (Velasco kick), :45.
IM — FG, Velasco 36, 10:13.
LW — Garrett 1 run (Mathewson kick), 2:22.
LW — Tony Reeves 19 pass from Garrett (Mathewson kick), 5:28.
IM — JC Jackson 65 pass from Johnson (Velasco kick), 2:21.
I || LW
First Downs 13 8
Rushing Yards 183 91
Passing 11-16-1 7-12-1
Passing Yards 240 75
Sacks 2 2
Fumbles 0 4-3
Penalties 2-15 3-35