LAKELAND — Admiral Farragut players and fans will remember their latest showdown with Lakeland Victory Christian for a long time. Not for a good reason though.
An inadvertent whistle on a blocked field goal led to a rekick for Victory Christian, giving the Storm a 24-20 win over the Blue Jackets in a region final Friday night at Tenoroc Stadium.
After nearly erasing a 21-point fourth-quarter deficit, the Blue Jackets’ defense held strong as the Storm drove to put the game out of reach. They finally stopped the Storm at the 10-yard line and blocked Chris Crowe’s 27-yard field goal, or at least they thought they did.
Initially the referees called roughing the kicker, but later picked that flag up and ruled an inadvertent whistle blew after the kick was blocked and the ball was still live. The whistle gave Victory Christian a chance to take the play’s result or play the down over. Crowe was true with his second chance with 2:16 remaining.
Cortavious Givens scored on a 5-yard touchdown with no time remaining, but the second-chance field goal made the extra point for what should have been the tying point moot.
“First it was roughing the kicker,” AFA coach Chris Miller said. “Then it was roughing the snapper, there was an inadvertent whistle. I still don’t know if I understand what happened exactly. We blocked the kick, in the process of blocking the kick we hit the kicker, which is legal and they admitted that.
“But it didn’t come down to that. It never comes down to one play.”
The Blue Jackets mounted a furious rally to get to where the controversial call mattered.
Victory Christian led 21-0 entering the fourth quarter before AFA got on track.
After the defense stopped the Storm on the Blue Jackets’ 45-yard line, Givens took the first snap 55 yards on a run up the middle to cut the lead to 21-7. The Blue Jackets scored again just more than two minutes later when Brad Hyman blocked Crowe’s punt and Diego Harris recovered at the Storm’s 3.
After a penalty, Rayshawn Jenkins scored from 1 yard out to make it 21-14 and give the Blue Jackets a chance at a comeback.
“Our motto is don’t give up the ship, never surrender until the very end and that’s been our M.O. all year,” Miller said. “We just fell short.”