BY ANDREAS BUTLER
Flagler Palm Coast (FPC) escaped with a 17-14 win over Spruce Creek at Pop Johnson Field in Port Orange on Oct. 13.
The game was Spruce Creek’s homecoming, a battle between unbeaten teams, a district 8-2A matchup and broadcasted live on Spectrum TV.
“We cut down on our penalties, which hurt us in the first half. We finally started executing. It was a big game atmosphere. We just had to play physical and changed the game,” said FPC Head Coach Travis Roland.
Spruce Creek (5-1, 2-1) took a 7-0 lead when Kyle Minckler hit Hayden Flood in the back of the end zone from nine yards out late in the first quarter.
Flagler Palm Coast (7-0, 2-0) scored 17 points in the third quarter and led 17-7 after two touchdown runs by Donovan Montoya and a field goal from Samuel Petrin.
Their first 10 points came off consecutive fumbles by the Hawks.
Montoya, a sophomore, finished the game with 86 total yards all in the second half.
“We’ve used two quarterbacks all year long. It was just Donovan’s time. It was a running game. We put him in and gave him a shot to see what he can do,” said Roland.
Jacquez Lord’s 53-yard touchdown run with 9:54 left in the fourth quarter got the Hawks within 17-14.
FPC had the ball at the Spruce Creek five-yard line on fourth down early in the final quarter.
Spruce Creek’s Jhmez Hull intercepted Ryan Freeman’s pass and was headed to the end zone when a referee blew the whistle.
Instead of the Hawks leading 20-17 with about six minutes to play, the ball was placed at their own 40-yard line.
The referee said that he thought the play occurred on a two-point conversion attempt.
Roland commented, “He blew the whistle inadvertently. It originally looked like he was calling the quarterback down. It was an unfortunate call, but we had many of them tonight. If they cry about that call right there, I don’t care.”
Spruce Creek failed to score on its final two possessions.
FPC controls its own destiny for the postseason. They play district games with DeLand (Oct. 20) and Jacksonville Mandarin (Oct 27). The Bulldogs will be favored.
“We’re a family. We love each other. We believe in each other and do what we have to do. We’ve been successful by communicating and playing physical. If we can do our jobs and avoid penalties, we’ll be fine,” noted Roland.
Spruce Creek will need help getting into the playoffs if FPC goes on to win the district.
The Hawks’ schedule may not garner them enough points to earn an at-large bid. They beat Atlantic (0-7) and Haynes City (1-6).
Creek has a district game with Jacksonville Mandarin (2-5) on Oct. 29.
They face Orange City University (3-2) on Oct. 27, which could help if the Titans keep winning and New Smyrna Beach (2-3) on Nov. 3.
A thrilling win for FPC and heartbreaking lost for Creek. The game may have been decided on the controversial play that nullified a would of been pick six for the Hawks.
The refs did make bad calls and missed bad calls on both sides. Still Spruce Creek had plenty of chances. They failed to score on their opening possession due to a dropped would be touchdown and missed field goal.
The Hawks still did it big on homecoming. Excellent fireworks show at halftime.
This week’s top high school football games
Flagler Palm Coast (7-0, 2-0) at DeLand (1-4, 0-2): The FPC Bulldogs lead the district 8-1A race title race and control their postseason fate after upsetting Spruce Creek. The DeLand Bulldogs have played better as of late and won’t lie down.
Seabreeze (4-3, 2-1) at Deltona (2-4, 1-2): The Sandcrabs have won four of their last five games and are alive in the district 13-6A title race due to their defense. The Wolves will present a challenge.
Warner Christian (3-4) at Father Lopez (3-3): Warner is struggling and Lopez has pulled of a few wins recently. This usually is a good game between local small schools. The Green Wave will be favored at home. Can the Eagles find a way to win?
New Smyrna (2-3, 1-2) at Mainland (3-3, 1-0): Mainland has dominated the district over the years. The Buccaneers will be a tall task for the Barracudas to overcome.
Spruce Creek (5-1, 2-1) at Jacksonville Mandarin (2-5, 1-1): The Hawks need to rebound and keep their slim postseason hopes alive by beating the Mustangs in district play.
Lake Mary (6-1, 4-0) at University (4-2, 4-1): University defeated Sanford Seminole 28-7 on Tuesday in a makeup game (remember the hurricanes). The Titans can win the district 8A-2 title and earn an automatic playoff berth by beating the talented Rams.
Prep Sports Seven Football Rankings
1. Flagler Palm Coast (7-0), 2. Spruce Creek (5-1), 3. Mainland (3-3), 4. University (3-2), 5. Taylor (6-1), 6. Matanzas (4-2) 7. Seabreeze (4-3).