Frederica Academy’s players and coaches were feeling a sense of déjà vu late in Friday’s game against Bulloch Academy.
The Knights had several opportunities to close out the game midway throughout the fourth quarter, but an interception, a fumble and some untimely penalties gave the Gators the ball with less than five minutes in the game.
Bulloch quarterback Don Aaron had a 45-yard run, topping off the drive with a 21-yard touchdown pass with about three minutes left in the game to narrow the Knight’s lead to 28-21.
On the following possession, a blocked punt gave Bulloch the ball on the Frederica 40-yard line with 1:14 remaining in the game.
Aaron completed a 30-yard pass to move the ball to the 10-yard line. The game ended with Aaron being run out of bounds before the goal line with 11 seconds remaining as the Knights held on for a 28-21 victory.
Last year, the Gators handed the Knights their only regular season loss with a late fourth quarter touchdown and a two-point conversion to end the game 8-7.
After the game, Knight’s head coach Brandon Derrick said he had a sense of foreboding as Bulloch threatened to score late in the game. He said the team had several opportunities to put the game out of reach and failed to do so.
“We didn’t get a chance to put it away,” he said. “There were tasting hope and felt like they had a chance. We gave them hope in the end.”
Early in the game, Frederica fell behind 14-0, before Derrick said he made a “slight adjustment” that slowed down the Gators’ offense.
“We just told them to play,” he said.
The Knights had an 11-play drive, topped with a three-yard runs by quarterback Jaylin Simpson, who gained 102 yards on 15 carries for the game.
On the following Gator’s possession, the Knights scrambled for a snap that went over the punter’s head, recovering the ball on Bulloch’s 45-yard line with 1:18 remaining in the half. Simpson scored his second touchdown run of the night from the 2-yard line with 11 seconds remaining in the half to knot the score at 14-14.
Frederica scored on its first possession of the second half on a 1-yard run by Simpson, his third of the game. After trading possessions several times, Simpson threw a 45-yard touchdown pass to Isaiah Jackson to increase the lead to 28-14 late in the third quarter.
The crowd noise near the end of the game was also a help, Derrick said. He praised Simpson for his big plays.
“He played well,” he said. “He did a good job managing the game.”
The win leaves the Knights in first place with a 3-0 record in region play and a 5-2 overall record in the GISA Region 2-3A standings. Bulloch falls to 1-1 in the region, and a 5-3 record for the season.
The Knights play at Edward Burke Academy next week for the final regular-season game. If the team wins, they will be GISA Region 2-3A champs.