The Frostproof Bulldogs gave a valiant effort Friday night, and took the second ranked team in the state, Melbourne Central Catholic, to five overtimes in the first round of the Class 3A playoffs.
But MCC had just enough, stopping a Frostproof two-point conversion try to win, 38-37. It is the third straight year the Bulldogs dropped their opening round playoff game.
MCC had the first possession in overtime, which starts at the opponents 10 yard line, and scored on its third run of the possession. The extra point made it 21-14.
Frostproof got no yardage on a Xavier Gaines run and a second down run by Kaleel Gaines on its first overtime possession. But on third down, Xavier Gaines faked a hand off and kept the ball himself, going around right end from almost 10 yards out. The PAT kick by Lamar Bobb was good, and the teams headed to a second OT.
Frostproof had the first possession in the second overtime, and started it with two straight runs by Cecil Cherry to the one yard line. Xavier Gaines then tried a sneak which was stopped, and on fourth down, Gaines was stopped again taking a snap in the shotgun formation and trying to go over right tackle.
However MCC then tried a field goal on its first play of its second possession, but it sailed wide left.
In the third OT, Chase Jackson-Harris for MCC and Cherry for the Bulldogs traded rushing TD’s, and in the fourth OT, the teams traded field goals.
In overtime five, MCC needed all four downs to score on a QB sneak, barely, for a 38-31 lead. Frostproof, with Kaleel Gaines at QB and Xavier Gaines at receiver, Kaleel went around left end from 10 yards out on second down for a score.
Frostproof decided to settle things once an for all at that point by going for a two-point conversion. After MCC was flagged for offsides, Kaleel Gaines was stopped from short yardage to end the Bulldogs season.
The game figured to be an offensive show, with both teams averaging over 40 points a game this season, but it was a defensive struggle almost from the start and stayed that way throughout.
MCC tied the game on a 56 yard touchdown drive that started with 5:53 in the fourth. Running Back Chase Jackson-Harris did almost all the damage, including a 19-yard burst on a third-and-7 at the Frostproof 30, and a 14-yard run on a 4th-and-1 at the Bulldog 37. Jackson-Harris actually fumbled the ball at the end of the run, but covered up his own miscue before Frostproof could recover.
Frostproof took over with 1:36 to play at their own 20, and got five bonus yards when the Hustlers were flagged for an illegal substitution, but three straight incompletions gave MCC a final possession with more than a minute left on the clock, with a drive start at their own 40.
A pass completion and 15-yard personal foul moved the ball to the Frostproof 20, but a 35-yard field goal try in the final 10 seconds was no good when the snap was low, forcing overtime. Frostproof was flagged 10 times for 105 yards in penalties in regulation.
The Bulldogs missed a chance for what might have been key points late in the third quarter, driving to a first and goal at the Hustler 10. But three running plays netted just two yards, and a high snap on a 25-yard field goal try scuttled the scoring opportunity.
MCC looked like they might take advantage of the momentum swing, but the Bulldogs defense stepped up once again after MCC drove to the Frostproof 20. Bulldog Travis Lawton got good pressure on MCC quarterback Brandon Ziarno who slipped as Lawton was about to bring him down for a 17-yard loss.
But three plays later, Jarviel Hart lost the handle on a sweep play, and the hosts recovered at their own 44. It was the only turnover of the game, leading to the tying touchdown.
Frostproof took a 14-7 lead after two quarters of play.
Frostproof broke out on top early in the second quarter, thanks to a highlight-reel run by Xavier Gaines, who bullied his way over and around about a half dozen Hatter would-be tacklers to score on a 57 yard run with 9:10 to go in the second quarter. Jaylan McKinney opened the brief three-play, 76-yard drive with an 16 yard scamper.
The mistakes started showing up early for Frostproof with three penalties against them that helped keep MCC’s opening drive of the game alive.
Two were offsides calls, including one on a 4th-and-1 at the Frostproof 21, and the third was a face mask call on a quarterback sack that would have otherwise brought up a fourth down and MCC punt.
But the Bulldogs escaped giving up points when a snap for a 27-yard field goal try went awry and Frostproof took over on downs.
But they couldn’t dodge that bullet again midway through the second. The Hustlers were going to face a 4th-and-9 and the Frostproof 30, but and unsportsmanlike conduct call against the Bulldogs gave MCC a first down at the 17, and on the very next play, Ziarno hit Max Erdman who darted to the right corner of the endzone to tie the game at 7-7 with 4:45 to go before intermission.
Frostproof’s second score of the half came on a strange sequence, with Xavier Gaines in the middle of it again.
Gaines appeared to he hurt on a third down play in the final minute of the half. But he got up, and after a 15-yard unsportsmanlike call against Frostproof moved the ball back to the MCC 33, he found Hart at about the two yard line. Hart looped to his right and across the goal line with 22.9 seconds to go before intermission. Lamar Bobb’s second PAT of the night made it a 14-7 game at the half.
The scoring drive started at Frostproof’s own 25, and was highlighted by an 11-yard run by Xavier Gaines, a nine-yard run by McKinney and a 15-yard pass completion to Marcus Bobb.
MCC came into Friday night’s game a perfect 10-0, and ranked No. 2 in the final Associated Press Class 3A football poll. Frostproof was 7-3 and unranked. Much of the game was played in a light drizzle.