Neither the Frostproof Bulldogs nor the Auburndale Bloodhounds had much on the line Friday night in their regular season finale.
Both qualified for post-season play with district wins last week, so it didn’t figure that last night’s matchup would have many fireworks. Auburndale is a Class 5A school. Frostproof is Class 3A.
Auburndale scored three times in the first two quarters, including a bit of a back breaker in the closing seconds of the second period, and led 28-15 early in the fourth quarter. The game finished too late for a complete game recap to be printed in this edition.
Auburndale’s ground attack was on display early, as eight of its nine plays on a 63-yard scoring drive on their first possession of the night were running calls. The only pass was an important one, however, a 15-yard catch and run by Artavis Pierce on a 3rd-and-8 play. Charles Taylor finished the possession with a 17-yard run off right tackle for a 7-0 Bloodhound lead with 5:34 remaining in the first quarter.
But the Bulldogs came right back with its own answer, a 10-play, 80-yard scoring march. The drive got a major assist from the host Hounds, who were flagged for a pass interference call on a 3rd-and-12. On the very next play, Kijana Gaines hauled in a 40-yard pass to the Auburndale 15. Three plays later, after a 14-yard pass to the hosts one-yard line to Kijana Gaines, quarterback Xavier Gaines took it the final yard on a keeper. Lamar Bobb kicked the extra point with 1:31 to tie the game at 7-all.
Despite their usual ground prowess, Auburndale moved the ball mostly through the air on its second scoring drive of the night. This one was a nine-play drive that covered 83 yards, and only the first play and the last two were running plays. Pass completions of 20 and 39 yards moved the Bloodhounds to the Frostproof five, and two plays later, Derwin James bullied his way over the goal line from the two for a 14-7 Auburndale lead.
But the Bloodhounds were not finished, taking a 21-7 lead to the lockeroom, scoring with 30.7 seconds to play before intermission. Jessie Britt hauled in a 25-yard pass, out dueling a couple of Frostproof defenders, for the hosts third touchdown of the night, after Auburndale took possession at their own 48 with 62 seconds left in the second quarter.
The Bulldogs sliced into that advantage on their first possession of the second half. Starting at their own 43, Frostproof was aided by three Auburndale penalties, including a pass interference flag, to pull within 21-15. The drive also featured a pair of 10-yard passes to Daniel Knighten, both on third down. After the pass interference call, Xavier Gaines hit Kaleel Gaines on a 20-yard touchdown pass. Kaleel made a nice sliding catch and kept in bounds at the same time to put the six points on the board. . James again did the honors, carrying it in from two yards out. He also had the key play of the quick six-play, 52 yard drive when he broke up the middle on a 27-yard scamper.
But the Bulldogs defense, which has been pretty stout all year, didn’t have an answer as Auburndale went back to the ground on its ensuing possession and upped the lead to 28-15 less than two minutes later. They needed just six plays to dive 56 yards, with James going in from two yards out, after ripping off a 27-yard scamper earlier in the possession.
Frostproof drove deep into Auburndale territory late in the third, but missed a field goal try.
Frostproof, which will be on the road next Friday at Clearwater Central Catholic in a 7:30 p.m. kickoff, came into Friday night’s game at 6-3. Auburndale, which beat Lake Wales last week 21-0 and ran for over 300 yards against the Highlanders, came into the game 5-4. They will host Palmetto in their opening round playoff game.