OKEECHOBEE — Two key turnovers held the Okeechobee Brahmans back from winning their homecoming game against the Seminole Ridge Hawks on Oct. 4.
The Hawks recovered two bad snaps from the Okeechobee offense, and were able to convert those turnovers into touchdowns each time.
The Brahmans fell to Seminole Ridge 20-0, dropping them to 1-5 this year.
It was a frustrating homecoming loss for Okeechobee, especially considering they had many opportunities to take control of the game.
The Brahman defense forced two turnovers of their own in the game. The first came as the Hawks were on the goal line threating to go up two scores in the second quarter. Seminole Ridge quarterback Shane Goolsby dropped back to pass and was immediately under pressure from Brahman seniors Lindsey Major and Oscar Longoria. The pressure from Major and Longoria forced Goolsby out of the pocket where he attempted to throw while on the run. And the Hawks quarterback’s pass was picked off in the end zone by Okeechobee senior Veyon Washington.
Washington was tackled at Okeechobee’s 5-yard line as he attempted to return the interception, but the Brahmans only needed one big play to move the ball to midfield.
On the ensuing offensive drive, Okeechobee senior quarterback Matthew Beard hit fellow senior De’nitrik Whittaker for 47-yard pass to move the Brahmans out of the shadow of their own end zone. A few plays later Beard hit junior Joshua Suarez for a big third down gain to put the Brahmans on the Hawk’s 20-yard line.
The Okeechobee offense was able to bring that drive all the way down to the Seminole Ridge goal line. In fact the Brahmans brought the ball about as close as you can without actually scoring, about an inch away from the goal line.
Facing fourth down with about an inch to go, the Brahmans made the decision to go for it, hoping to tie the game up 7-7 heading into halftime. But Washington’s rushing attempt was stuffed at the line, and Okeechobee turned the ball over on downs.
That play was a huge momentum turn in the game. Despite a series of great plays that saw the Brahmans march the entire length of the field, Okeechobee would have nothing to show for it.
The Brahman defense did a good job against the Seminole Ridge offense. Okeechobee’s defensive front was disruptive and Goolsby often didn’t have a clean pocket to throw from for most of the night.
Another bad snap from Okeechobee in the fourth quarter would give the Hawks the ball deep in Brahman territory.
And Seminole Ridge capitalized on the turnover by scoring its second touchdown of the game.
Okeechobee responded with another impressive offensive drive that was kickstarted by a big kickoff return by sophomore Jayquavious Thomas.
Beard and Whittaker nearly connected on a 30-yard touchdown strike, but a Hawks defender was able to force the ball out at the last second.
One play later the ball would be picked off by Seminole Ridge. A long-time, consuming scoring drive by the Hawks following the interception would effectively end the game.
There are plenty of positives for Okeechobee to take away from the game. Beard had what has been his most productive game this season, going six of 10 for 106 yards. And the defense has shown an ability to take the ball away and be disruptive.
Next the Brahmans will travel to face a struggling 1-5 Port St. Lucie team at 7 p.m. on Oct. 11.