Thursday, November 12, 2009

Deltona edges South Lake, 17-14

The Daily Commercial
Staff Writer

GROVELAND -- Walter Banks knows his team can compete with the best.

The South Lake High School football coach found that out earlier this season when the Eagles battled Tampa Catholic, East Ridge and Apopka into the fourth quarter before losing all three games.

More often than not, it seemed like South Lake's biggest enemy was itself -- critical mistakes at crucial points in games. A penalty here and a turnover there, and what had been a three- or four-point deficit turned into a double-digit defeat.

In Friday's season finale against Deltona, South Lake self-destructive tendencies reared their ugly heads again and thwarted a late comeback attempt in a 17-14 loss.

"We had a lot of bad breaks this year and didn't show the kind of consistency I was hoping for, but I'm so proud of these kids," Banks said after he spoke briefly with his team, including 13 seniors who had played their final game for the Eagles. "I can't think of one time when our kids quit on us. No matter what happened on Friday, they always showed up on Monday, ready to work and they gave us everything they had.

"Fans may look the win-loss record and think we've had a bad season, but I saw a lot of positives come out of this year and I can't wait to get back to work with our returning players."

South Lake (3-7) played well enough to win, with the exception of two plays on defense and one on offense.

After a scoreless first quarter, Deltona got its single-wing offense untracked and launched an eight play, 52-yard drive that was capped off with a nine-yard scoring run. On the drive, the Wolves (4-6) had three plays that gained at least 10 yards.

South Lake responded with a 10-play drive that set up a 52-yard field goal attempt by Roberto Aguayo, who booted a 51 yarder earlier this season. His school-record attempt, however was blocked and returned, and when the made scramble for the loose ball subsided, the Wolves had possession on South Lake's 28-yard line.

On the next play, Josh Dagley swept around right end and appeared to be stopped, but the senior powered through the scrum and scampered in for the score.

"We weren't ready to play in the first half," Banks said. "Tonight was Senior Night and the pre-game festivities broke up our pre-game routine. I don't think we really got comfortable and back to playing the way we're capable of playing until the second half."

After forcing the Wolves to punt on their first possession after intermission, South Lake running back Steel Stewart blasted through the left side of Deltona's defense and appeared to be on his way to a 60-yard scoring dash. Stewart, however was caught at the one-yard line and fumbled the ball into the end zone.

Deltona recovered and took possession on the 20.

Once again, South Lake's defense stepped up and forced a one-yard punt and took possession on Deltona's 34-yard line.

On the ensuing possession, Stewart redeemed himself by 29 yards on four carries in the drive, which was capped by his three-yard run.

Late in the fourth quarter, trailing 17-7, South Lake scored on a 27-yard pass from Jonothan Cox to P.J. Harris to get within a field goal.

Once again, the Eagles defense rose to the occasion after a failed onside kick and stopped the Wolves, regaining possession on their 26-yard line with one minute, 43 seconds to play.

After receptions of 14 and 19 yards by Curtis Davis, the Eagles had moved the ball to Deltona's 41 with less than a minute to play. Needing only about 10 yards to give Aguayo a shot a game-tying field goal. Cox overthrew his intended receiver at the three-yard line and the ball was picked off by Donald Matthews to seal the win for the Wolves.

South Lake's defense limited Deltona to 185 yards of offense. Dagley led the Wolves with 73 yards rushing and he completed his only pass attempt to Shane Lewis for 22 yards.

The Eagles turned in 331 yards of offense. Stewart led the way with 156-yards rushing on 19 carries and Cox completed 10-of-24 passes for 168 yards. Harris was the team's leading receiver with three catches for 68 yards and a touchdown. Davis had four catches for 55 yards.
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