ORLANDO, Fla. — For the first time in school history, the Lake Nona Lions started the season off (3-0), however, the three-game winning streak ended Friday night as the Boone Braves upset the Lions winning 13-8 on the road. In the final minutes of the game, the Braves were able to make two critical defensive stops in the red zone, one that if the Lions had scored they would be the ones celebrating this evening. Led by quarterback Jaxsen Anagnostis, who threw for 94 yards, the Braves were able to hold and win despite a late comeback from Lake Nona.
THE INFO: The Lions started off on offense first, but it was Boone who would counter and score. Lake Nona quarterback Michael McFarlane threw an interception just minutes into the game. Boone running back Brandon Bush was down to the Lions’ 14-yard line, but the Braves settled for a 25-yard field goal by Jonathan DeLucca with 7:25 left in the first quarter.
McFarlane drove the ball down the field for the Lions on the next offensive series and converted 4th and 6 to put his team in the red zone. The quarterback kept it himself on first down but was stopped short at the one-yard line. The Braves’ defense stepped up and made a huge goal line stop keeping Lake Nona off the scoreboard with just under 30 seconds remaining in the first quarter. After one, the Braves held onto a 3-0 lead.
Anagnostis and the Braves offense used the momentum from the stop by their defense and extended their lead to 10-0 before the half. Boone found themselves in the red zone again and this time capitalized with a 2-yard rushing touchdown by Daione Creal. The Braves led 10-0 at the half.
The score would remain the same until the eight-minute mark of the 4th quarter. Looking for any sort of life on offense, McFarlane let the ball fly and found senior Briand Gorgil who caught inside the ten-yard line. The next play, McFarlane eased his way into the end zone, and after the missed extra point, the Lions trailed 10-6.
The Lions defense was able to force the Braves to punt with seven minutes remaining but on the punt return, the returner fumbled the ball, giving Boone great field position. Minutes later, DeLucca kicked a 41-yard field goal to make it 13-6 with 3:49 remaining in the game.
Lake Nona jumped back on offense and drove the ball down into the red zone one final time trailing by a touchdown. McFarlane connected with Anthony Queely on a 41-yard reception which set the Lions up on Boone’s 18-yard line with one minute and twenty seconds remaining.
KEY PLAY(S) OF THE GAME: Three straight rushing plays from the Lake Nona quarterback and the Lions then faced 4th and 2 on the Boone 11 yard line. Earlier in the first quarter, the Braves held the Lions short and this time, the defense delivered another huge stop. McFarlane’s pass fell incomplete and Boone jumped back on offense.
Boone killed the clock by allowing Anagnostis to scramble around in the end zone. It worked as the dancing quarterback used up 11 seconds of the clock. The Braves took a safety with 11 seconds left making the score 13-8. On one final play, McFarlane’s Hail Mary pass fell incomplete as time ran out.
STAR OF THE GAME: The star of the game was Boone’s kicker, Jonathan DeLucca. The two-sports athlete of football and soccer, nailed two critical field goals, one from 25 yards out, the other 41 yards. In addition, each kickoff was a touchback, which kept Lake Nona from having any sort of kickoff return success.
DID YOU KNOW: It’s déjà vu all over again for Boone head coach Andy Johnson and company. For the second straight season, the Braves started off (0-2) and went on to win three straight games before entering the bye week. In addition, this is the second straight year that Boone has defeated Lake Nona; last year’s game ended 45-13 in Boone’s favor.
QUOTABLE: “We knew that they probably would have one play and I felt like if we could keep them around the 50-yard line, I didn’t think their quarterback could throw the ball that far. I’ve got faith in my special team’s crew. We drew that play up on the sidelines and the play itself ran 11 seconds off the clock, so it got a little dicey at the end. This win was a great team effort. Our special teams was huge tonight,” said Boone head coach Andy Johnson the decision to allow his quarterback to kill the clock late in the 4th quarter and on the game overall.
WHAT’S NEXT: The Boone Braves (3-2) have a week off before hosting the Jones Tigers (5-0) in Week 7 of Florida high school football. The Tigers won 48-24 over West Orange (1-4). As for Lake Nona, the Lions jump back into 7A-5 District plays as they host Harmony (2-3), a team that won 15-9 on the road over Tavares (1-3).