Aubrey's Josh Giles hit a low line drive that barely got high enough to clear the goal post from 25 yards out, and it ended any hope of a season ending victory for the Gainesville Leopards Friday night at Leopard Stadium. The Chaparrals held off the Leopards 24-21.
It was another slow start for the Leopards offense as Aubrey controlled the time of possession and the number of plays in the first half. After holding the ball nearly the first eight minutes of the first quarter the Chaparrals used some trickery on a fake field goal to take the games first lead, 7-0.
Gainesville's first possession would stall but their defense would respond. The two teams would trade possessions until late in the first half. With Aubrey driving Gainesville's P.J. Lane would intercept a Kyle Lynn pass toward the end of the half. The momentum for Gainesville would be short lived as a fumble on the very next play set Aubrey up again. Lynn only needed one play to find Matt Anson in the corner of the endzone to give Aubrey a 13-0 lead with 38 seconds left till intermission.
Gainesville would get great field position from a short kickoff and would start their next drive at their own 48. Instead of taking a couple of shots at the endzone Gainesville coach Lance Gary decided to play it safe with his youngsters.
"We got down to their 40 yard line and we were a little bit out of field goal range," Gary said. "With our pass protection as shaky as it is I felt like I wanted to go to the locker room at 13-0 and not give ourselves a 20-0 deficit going into halftime if we made a mistake."
The Leopards came out on fire in the second half. After a penalty and sack backed Gainesville up into a second and 30 on their first two plays of the third quarter, the Leopard's Adam Berryman came to the rescue. Berryman raced around right end for an 85 yard score that put Gainesville back in the game, 13-7. After another Leopard defensive stand Berryman would get the call again scampering in from 22 yards out, this time giving Gainesville the lead after a Juan Hernandez extra point, 14-13.
"We went in at halftime and really didn't change a thing," Gary said. "We talked about playing hard and we got some breaks in the second half and put ourselves in position to make plays."
Aubrey did not let Gainesville enjoy the lead long, using another long 14 play drive to grab the lead back early in the fourth quarter when Albert Silva scored on a fourth and goal from the one. That play gave the Chaparrals the lead back at 21-14.
Aubrey would begin another drive late in the game driving deep into Gainesville territory. The Leopard defense would get a big turnover on downs to give the ball back to the Leopards with just over a minute to play. On Gainesville's very next play, Sikes went back to pass and was hit right when he released the ball as it fell into the hands of Aubrey's Colton Kelly, setting Aubrey up for the winning field goal. It was one of two big blind side hits that Sikes took late in the game resulting in Leopard turnovers.
"I'm proud of the kids, they did what I asked them to do and they shouldn't have any regrets for their effort," Gary said. "This was our seniors last football game and they should hold their head up high and know that they gave their best effort and nobody can take that away from them. The outcome just didn't come out the way we would have liked."