WINTER HAVEN - It was a chilly night in Polk County but it was hot on the field at Denison Stadium for the Mainland - Winter Haven, Class 6A Regional Semi-Finals game. Mainland came out ahead after a missed 47 yard field goal attempt by Winter Haven in the last play of the game.
Mainland had a fast start going 9 plays for 65 yards; capped off by a 2 yard touchdown run by Jontey Byrd. Not to be outdone, Winter Haven went 72 yards in 2 plays with a 66 yard TD reception by junior receiver Kendrick Holland to tie the score 7-7 in the 1st.
Mainland's Cameron Hadley continued Mainland's big night into the 2nd quarter with an 11 yard TD run to put Mainland up 14-7. After a Mainland interception, the Buccaneers were on the move again. However Winter Haven's Darian Mills would stop the Buc's momentum with a 75 yard interception return for a TD to tie the game 14-14. The Buc's responded with a 13 yard TD from Hadley to go up 20-14 into the half.
Starting off the 3rd quarter, the Winter Haven Blue Devils came out on fire with scoring in 1 play with a 38 yard TD run by Adam Lane to tie the game at 20-20. Luke Borders put Winter Haven ahead for the first time with a 25 yard TD pass to Holland, his second of the night. Winter Haven led going into the 4th quarter 27-20.
The Mainland Bucs responded early in the 4th, with a 2 yard TD pass from Hadley to wide receiverDavid White to tie the game 27-27. After holding Winter Haven to a punt, Mainland was on the move again. Winter Haven's Holland had other plans when he stepped in front of Hadley's pass to return it 97 yards for a touchdown. Winter Haven missed the extra point to put the score at 33-27.
Winter Haven holds Mainland to a punt with Winter Haven gaining possession of the ball with 4.20 left in the game. After 2 first down, the Blue Devils had a third and five at Mainland's 35 yd line. Mainland's Arthur Westbrook intercepts Border's pass attempt at the 15 yard line. Hadley takes over, going 45 yards up the middle to the Winter Haven's 40 yard line. 2 plays later, Hadley hits WR Stephen Bostick for completion down to the 2 yd line. Byrd ties the game at 33-33 with a 2 yard touchdown run; Mainland's extra point is good to go up 34-33.
Winter Haven has one last grasp and misses a 46 yard field goal attempt as time expires. Final score 34-33.
"We never quit, we always believe, we always work hard; this team never gives up," said Mainland's Head Coach Scott Wilson. "Hadley is a great leader and show great leadership,"
The Buccaneers will play the undefeated Naples Eagles, 42-21 winners over South Fort Myers in Naples next Friday night