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October 13, 2012

Bradford knocks off Indians 28-21

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STARKE-On paper it clearly looked like a mismatch, one defense was giving up an average of 3.5 points a game, had given up only 19 points and posted three shutouts; while the other entered the game on the heels of a 41-0 blowout loss to state power South Sumter last week and had also lost 6 of their last 8 games to its arch-rival.

It didn't matter though, as host Bradford County (4-2, 2-1) held off arch-rival Keystone Heights (5-2, 3-1) 28-21 at David Hurse Stadium to seize control of the District 4-5A runner-up spot.

Bradford stunned the Indians early on their second possession of the game on Lyndell Hampton's (92 yards on 15 carries) 5-yard touchdown run giving the Tornadoes an early 7-0 lead with 4:48 left in the first quarter.

Early in the second quarter, the Tornadoes struck again thanks to a 24-yard scramble from sophomore quarterback Jacob Luke, which set upJarvis Desue's 2-yard touchdown run giving the Tornadoes a 13-0 lead with 9:09 left till half.

Just before half, Indian quarterback Blake Valenzuela tried to elude Tornadoes defenders and inadvertently threw the ball in the air to avoid the sack, and right into the hands of defensive lineman Markell Parks hands. Parks rumbled 20-yards down the right sideline for an untouched score and 20-0 lead with 1:05 left till half.

Despite being ahead three scores, Bradford coaches knew Keystone wouldn't give up and go away, especially with a potential playoff spot on the line and they didn't.

In the span of 91 seconds, the Indians made it a game again and cut the lead to one score 20-14 midway early in the third quarter.

Receiving the second half kickoff, the Indians didn't waste any time making things interesting. Senior tailbackAlex Gonzales, who was contained for most of the night, broke freer for a 54-yard touchdown run down the left side of the field cutting the lead to 20-7 just two minutes into the second half.

Three plays later, Luke threw right into the hands of Indians linebacker John Brown, who returned the interception 42 yards down to the 1-yard line before being pushed out of bounds.

Michael Carroll's 1-yard plunge cut the lead 20-14 with 8:23 left in the third quarter.

With the momentum having swung back to Keystone, Bradford needed a drive to seize back the game. Luke (12 of 21 for 151 yards) orchestrated a 71-yard, 15 play drive on the ensuing drive resulting in a fourth and nine pass play to Kenny Dinkins for a 15-yard touchdown putting the Tornadoes back ahead 28-14 with less than two minutes left in the third quarter.

Behind Gonzales (168 yards on 23 carries), the Indians appeared to be headed towards another score. Gonzales carried the ball nine consecutive times on the drive before coming out for a breather. With Gonzales on the sideline, the offense stalled gaining negative 5 yards.

Facing fourth and 15, Valenzuela's pass was nearly picked off at the 1-yard line giving the ball back to the Tornadoes with six minutes left in the game.

Just when it appeared Bradford would run the clock out potentially, wide receiver Marco Grimsley was stripped twice of the ball on back-to-back drives giving the ball back to the Indians at midfield.

Keystone took advantage of the second turnover by Grimsely. Three plays later Valenzuela found Brighton Gibbs for an 11-yard completion cutting the lead to 28-21 with 1:21 left in the game.

Keystone attempted an onside kick, which was recovered by Dequan Blount at midfield to end the Indians comeback attempt and the Indians run of 6 out of 8 wins over their arch-rivals.

With the win, Bradford (4-2, 2-1) remained in contention for the 4-5A runner-up spot ahead of Keystone (5-2, 3-1) thanks to the head-to-head win.

Bradford controls its own playoff destiny having to only win out to lock up the district runner-up spot, while Keystone, which host South Sumter next Friday, must either pull the upset over South Sumter or have Bradford drop one of its final district games to potentially force a district shootout.

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