COCOA, Fla. – Inside the ten-yard line down by three in overtime, head coach John Wilkinson only had one play on his mind: give the ball to Bruce Judson and leave it up to destiny to take care of the rest. The senior USF commit hiked the ball live on national television and charged forward.
Judson ran through the defense and into the end zone.
The Tigers had done it.
The crowd erupted and Judson was ecstatic as he led his team to a 26-23 victory over the top-rated Class 3A team in the Florida, the Trinity Christian Conquerors while the nation watched on ESPN2.
THE INFO: Entering the game, the Conquerors were 14 point favorites, even 21 point favorites depending on the spread you were looking at online.
That didn’t matter to star quarterback Bruce Judson and company.
On the first drive of the game, Trinity Christian took the field and was forced to punt on a quick three-and-out.
Cocoa returner Juwan Armstrong returned the punt for 15 yards and Judson took the field.
After two short runs, the Tiger quarterback threw a screen pass to wide receiver Javian Hawkins, who broke through the defense and scored from 64-yards out, to take a 7-0 lead with just under five minutes taken off the clock in the first quarter.
On the second drive of the game, Trinity Christian was looking to answer back.
Quarterback Legend Brumbaugh took the field from the Conqueror 37-yard line to start the drive after the Cocoa kickoff was deliberately put out of bounds to keep a return from happening.
On third-and-five after a delay of game call, Brumbaugh let the ball fly to Ohio State commit Shaun Wade who went up and came down with the ball putting the Conquerors inside the five-yard line, for a 56-yard completion.
However, on the very next play, running back Rasheed Martin was tackled in the backfield for a loss of 10 yards.
Brumbaugh was then sacked which brought out the field goal unit to kick a with a 41-yard field goal from Frankie Onate to shorten Cocoa’s lead to 7-3 with just under seven minutes left in the first quarter.
The second drive of the game for the Tigers went nowhere and was forced to punt giving the Conquerors great field position at the 49-yard line.
However, holding was called on the offense on the first play of the drive forcing the Conquerors back the 39-yard line. On the next play, Brumbaugh was picked off with four minutes left in the first quarter.
Cocoa drove the ball down to the 26-yard line and led 7-3 at the end of the first quarter.
A flag on the play set the Tigers back 10-yards but Judson hooked up with Armstrong which got them back to the 26-yard line.
However Trinity Christian helped Cocoa out with two more penalties with being flagged for offsides then getting called for a facemask penalty, putting the Tigers at the eight-yard line looking to extend their lead.
And the Tigers did just that when RB Timmy Pratt ran it in to give Cocoa a 14-3 over the Conquerors with 9:50 left in the first half.
On the next Trinity Christian drive, Cocoa started racking up numerous penalties eventually putting the Conquerors with the ball at Cocoa’s 26-yard line.
Unable to score a touchdown on a third down pass play that was swatted down by the swarming Cocoa defense, Onate kicked a 49-yard booming field goal to cut the lead to 14-6 with just about eight minutes left in the half.
Cocoa came back on the field and scored a field goal of their own with 1:16 left, giving them a 17-6 lead
However, on the kickoff Cocoa made a big mistake that proved to help eventually lead towards a potential comeback for the Conquerors.
ATH DJ Matthews received the kickoff, something Cocoa had been avoiding to have happen earlier in the game, and ran it all the way back to the house for an 80-yard touchdown return to cut Cocoa’s lead to 17-12 going into the half.
In the third quarter, things started to appear as if they were swinging Cocoa’s way completely.
With 8:19 left the Conquerors punted the ball back to Cocoa, allowing the Tigers to start their second drive of the second half.
Cocoa was able to drive the ball 80-yards using nearly six minutes of the third quarter clock, eventually settling for a field goal to take a 20-12 lead.
It appeared after that the Conquerors were deflated somewhat with the Tigers holding their own on defense. But that wouldn’t be the case towards the end of the fourth quarter.
In a change of events, the Conquerors were able to keep Judson from scoring to put the game away as the Tigers were forced to punt with five minutes remaining in the game. That quickly breathed new life for the Conquerors.
Brumbaugh took the field from his own 15-yard line and was able to convert a critical 4th-and-7 putting the Conquerors out their own 31-yard line. Brumbaugh then quickly threw the ball 36-yards to Matthews which set up the offense in scoring position on the five-yard line.
On the next play, Legend connected with Wade putting the score at 20-18 with just seconds left on the clock. The Conquerors pulled a trick play on the Tigers defense and Brumbaugh converted the two-point conversion to send the game into overtime tied at 20.
KEY PLAY(S) OF THE GAME: The Tigers won the coin toss and quickly deferred to having the ball second. Quickly, Cocoa’s defense shut down the door on the Conquerors in scoring a touchdown, having to settle for a field goal to take a 23-20 lead.
Now knowing Cocoa only need a touchdown to win the game Trinity Christian was going to need its defense to step up.
However, it wasn’t meant to be.
Judson took the field and handed the ball off to Timmy Pratt who picked up a couple of yards on the handoff. On the very next play, Judson took the game into his own hands as he pushed through the Conquerors defense to win the game 26-23 in overtime.
STAR OF THE GAME: Bruce Judson, the 4-star quarterback, threw for 171 yards and rushed for 91 yards and scoring one passing touchdown and the game-winning rushing touchdown in overtime.
DID YOU KNOW: Entering the game, Trinity Christian hadn’t lost a game dating back to 2014 when the team lost 28-7 against IMG Academy on October 16th, 2014, a streak of 22 wins before today’s loss
The Conquerors have two players, Wade and Matthews, in the ESPN 300 for the class of 2017 and three players, Tyreke Johnson, Eriq Gilyard and Chamarrie Conner in the ESPN 300 for the class of 2018.
QUOTABLE: “First off I’ve got to thank this team. I put the team on my back and everyone on the sideline was like ‘come on Bruce you can do this.’ We worked through the game, not just me, and we faced adversity during the game but coach told us to keep our cool. I mean big time players make big time plays in big games. When it’s time for me, I mean I don’t mean to to steal the spotlight, but when it’s time for me to do what I did, I put the team on my back,” said Bruce Judson on the game-winning touchdown.
WHAT’S NEXT: Next week, the Cocoa Tigers travel out west to face No.3 Bishop Gorman of Las Vegas, a team that won its 40th in a row against No.5 Cedar Hill. Trinity Christian travels to Ribault, a team that lost 9-6 against Miami Norland on Saturday night.
See the story as published first on FloridaHSFootball.com and USATodayHSS.com!
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