ORLANDO, Fla. — Four out of the last five times, the Boone Braves have beaten the Winter Park Wildcats. For the first time since 2013, the Wildcats had enough. Thanks to two touchdowns and one critical interception from Jordan Pouncey, Winter Park claimed the District 8A-3 championship, winning 28-19 at Boone. The loss eliminates the Braves out of the playoffs as the Wildcats swept District 3, advancing to (4-0) in district play.
THE INFO: The Braves were the first on offense, but it would the Wildcats to score first. After an interception by Boone quarterback Jaxsen Anagnostic, Winter Park took advantage and ran a trick play as junior Cameron Brown passed it to three-star wide receiver Andre Williams who hauled in a 44-yard touchdown.
The next drive, the Braves were forced to punt. On the punt return, the Wildcats coughed the ball up and Boone recovered setting up the offense inside the red zone on the 9-yard line. Two plays later, Anagnostic tied the game at 7 apiece running untouched to the far left side of the end zone at the 7:45 mark of the first quarter.
Penalties gave Winter Park strong field position at their 40-yard line. Senior John Hodges ran the ball on first down getting inside Boone territory. The next play, Notre Dame commit Jordan Pouncey broke free for a 44-yard rushing touchdown giving Winter Park a 14-7 lead with 6:27 remaining in the first quarter. The score would hold at the end of the first quarter.
At the start of the second quarter, the Braves drove the ball down the field to the 25-yard line. Winter Park was able to hold Boone to a field goal attempt. The 35-yard attempt flew wide left and the Wildcats jumped back on offense. Winter Park found themselves going for it on 4th and short on their 45-yard line, but decided to punt away with less than 8 minutes remaining in the half.
The next two drives resulted in three-and-outs as both teams were forced to punt. Winter Park punted on their 20-yard line and it was blocked. The Braves special teams recovered and two plays later, Nikolas Deloach scored on an 8-yard rush. After a failed extra-point, Winter Park led 14-13 with 1:50 left in the half.
The Wildcats looked to score before halftime, but it would backfire. On the final play of the half, Cameron LeGree turned the ball over and the ball was picked up by CJ Reeves, who sprinted down the sideline for 50 yards giving Boone a 19-14 lead after the failed two-point conversion.
Despite the momentum going their way, the Braves offense became stagnant in the second half. Although the Braves forced two fumbles and recovered both, the team was forced to punt on five consecutive drives. Winter Park took back the lead in the third quarter with Pouncey’s second touchdown of the night. LeGree stepped up and ran the ball twice getting down to the three-yard line. Pouncey’s three-yard score gave the Wildcats a 21-19 lead with 8:44 left in the third quarter.
KEY PLAY OF THE GAME: With less than three minutes on the clock, Boone needed a goal line stand. Facing 3rd and 8 on the Boone 12 yard line, Pouncey converted the first down and got down to the one-yard line, inches from his 3rd touchdown. The very next play with only one minute left, LeGree took it himself and jumped over the Braves. The score and extra point made it a two possession game as the Wildcats led 28-19 with just one minute left.
Anagnostis and the Braves were able to drive the ball one final time but was stopped short at the two-yard line as time ran out. The loss eliminates Boone (3-4 overall, 1-2 District 3) from the postseason.
STARS OF THE GAME: Quarterback Cameron LeGree and wide receiver Jordan Pouncey had chemistry all night long on the field. LeGree finished the night with over 150 yards rushing and a score of his own. Pouncey scored twice and had one interception.
DID YOU KNOW: For nine straight weeks, the Winter Park Wildcats have played each game on the road. Yes, no district or non-district home games. The Wildcats sweep the Class 8A, District 3 and now returned home after construction at their stadium, Showalter Field in Winter Park. This is their first District championship in three years.
QUOTABLE: “On the road nine straight weeks and to come away with a District championship, that’s a special group of kids and coaches. I challenged the players back in January and I challenged them again in the summer and this was our goal, to get this District championship and now a regional playoff home game. Nobody deserves it more than this group. It’s an unbelievable accomplishment. The team stepped up in the final 24 minutes because they wanted to be champions and they weren’t going to be denied tonight, said Winter Park head coach Tim Shifflet.
WHAT’s NEXT: The Wildcats (6-2 overall, 4-0 District 8A-3), makes their home debut next Friday night against Port Orange Spruce Creek, a team that crushed Mandarin at home, 42-19 to advance to (5-3, 3-1 in District 8A-1) and into the playoffs. As for the Braves, the team travels to Colonial High School to face the Grenadiers (1-7 overall, 1-2 District 8A-3).