The AC Flora varsity football team faced off against the Ridge View Blazers in the second round of the SCHSL AAAA playoffs on Friday night. The Falcons fell to Ridge View 28-15, eliminating them from the playoffs.
Ridge View got the first crack at offense. After AC Flora’s kickoff sailed out of bounds, the Blazers found themselves in prime position at the 36 yard line to start off the drive.
A screen pass from quarterback Andre Washington to David Mitchell put Ridge View at the Falcons’ 37 yard line. The rainy weather was playing a a factor early on in the game. Soon after, Washington fumbled and recovered his own snap for a loss of three yards. On third-and-13, Washington threw an incompletion to his reciever, Cincere Scott, forcing the Blazers to punt.
The punt was short, traveling only to the Falcons’ 18 yard line.
Flora’s first drive on offense should have looked very familiar to many Falcon fans. Matt Pack had runs of 13 yards and 16 yards to set the Flora offense up near midfield. The Falcons seemed to control the line of scrimmage as the offensive line sealed every possible gap.
Yet, when the offense seemed to stall at Ridge View’s 34 yard line, coach Dustin Curtis took no time in bringing out his “Jumbo” Package. Falcon linebacker Dontorian Best took the direct snap on third-and-6 and ran it right through the middle for a pick up of ten yards to keep the drive alive.
What began as a promising drive soon took a turn for the worst. A false start penalty and then a sack by Ridge View put the Falcons at third-and-22. After a short run from Matt Pack, Flora was forced to punt.
The Falcon defense stood pat, and forced a three-and-out from Ridge View.
The Falcons began the second quarter in possession of the ball at their own 44 yard line after an eight yard run by Matt Pack on first down. The drive yielded nothing though. On fourth-and-three, a high snap sailed over the head of Flora quarterback Wise Segars, giving the Blazers possession at the Falcon 24 yard line.
After dormant showings from both offenses, Ridge View provided the first fireworks of the game. Quarterback Andre Washington connected with receiver Jordan Smith on a well placed fade pass for a 26 yard touchdown to give the Blazers the 7-0 lead.
A strong outside run from Matt Pack set the Falcons up in Blazer territory at the 44 yard line.
The Falcons continued to rely on Pack, as he took another handoff to the outside for 23 more yards down to the Ridge View 6 yard line.
The Jumbo Package was deployed once again, working much better this time around. Dontorian “Tank” Best rumbled into the end zone to give Flora its first points of the night.
After a long kick return by Ridge View aided by a face mask penalty against the Falcons, the Blazers began their next drive in possession at Flora’s 13 yard line.
Ridge View took advantage of the situation, as Andre Washington found Tyree Byrd wide open in the end zone to give the Blazers the lead with under five minutes left in the first half.
Flora moved the ball well early in its next possession. Matt Pack and Terrell Coleman carried the offense to midfield. However, a sack by Ridge View would force the Falcons to punt and try to limit the damage in the first half.
The Flora punt was shanked and flew out of bounds at the Ridge View 45 yard line, giving the Blazers favorable position once again.
The Falcon defense got back to their usual selves on the next drive. On third-and-10, Tyler Robinson deflected a pass from Andre Washington to force Ridge View punt.
The Falcons would go into halftime trailing 14-7.
The Falcons began the second half in possession of the ball at their own 35 yard line.
A broken run play on first down by Matt Pack quickly put Flora behind the sticks. On third-and-10, Wise Segars’ pass was intercepted by Ridge View’s Tyson Player and returned to the Falcons’ 49 yard line.
An incompletion on third-and-10 forced the Blazer’s to punt. The Falcon defense did not flinch on fourth down when Ridge View attempted a fake punt. Cincere Scott was quickly bottled up and had to throw the ball away.
The Falcons began their drive at their own 39 yard line. However, a Ridge View sack and a false start from Flora forced the offense into a third-and-18 situation. After an incomplete screen pass from Wise Segars to Terrell Coleman, the Falcons were forced to punt.
A bad snap on the punt was recovered by the Blazers’ Dwight Jacobs Jr. who ran untouched 31 yards for a touchdown.
Flora once again found itself down multiple scores in a playoff game. The Falcons would have to dig deep if they wanted to survive and advance.
The Falcon offense was quickly stopped on their next drive though and Ridge View smelled blood in the water.
The Flora defense continued to do their job. A sack by Dontorian Best on third down brought an enormous uproar from the Falcon faithful.
AC Flora had at least 12 more minutes to prove that they belonged in the postseason.
Q4: The offensive struggles continued for Flora, as a three and out inside their own territory forced the Falcons to punt again.
The Falcon passing game finally got going on the next drive. Wise Segars completed a 19 yard strike over the middle to Banks Pope to quickly move the chains for Flora.
A personal foul for targeting against Ridge View moved the sticks, but there were also consequences for AC Flora. The foul was called on a hit to Wise Segars, who was injured on the play and left the game in the fourth quarter.
Nic Nelson would come in at quarterback for the remainder of the game.
A 19 yard run from Dontorian Best moved the Falcons into the red zone at Ridge View’s 20 yard line. Shortly after, the same play resulted in an eight yard touchdown run form Best, brining the Falcons to within a score. The two point conversion by Best was succesful, making the score 21-15 with 5:25 left in regulation.
The Falcon defense stepped up and forced a three-and-out. Flora had 3:47 and 82 yards to keep their hopes alive.
The offense went backwards. Two tackles for loss and a sack on third down forced the Falcons to punt from their own 4 yard line with just over a minute left.
The Falcons still had all three of their time outs and would need to hold one more time on defense to have a chance at getting the ball back.
Another Ridge View punt gave the Falcons possession at their own 8 yard line.
Nic Nelson’s pass on first down was intercepted by Ridge View’s Darrius Footes and returned for a touchdown with ten seconds left in the fourth quarter.
The Falcons ended their season with an overall record of 10-2 including the playoffs. The team should be commended for the toughness that it displayed throughout the season. They refused not flinch in the face of adversity through the many wins and the few losses. They displayed a “next man up” mentality all season and refused to waiver after injuries to key players like Matt Pack and Wise Segars. The night may have been cold and dark, but the future looks bright for Falcon football.