Having been on the South Fort Myers coaching staff five years, interim head coach Matthew Holderfield can’t remember the last time the Wolfpack made a kick beyond 30 yards. In fact, he most recalls the team’s struggles on extra points over the years.
So what was he thinking sending Daniel Diaz, a first-year kicker with no success on his kicking resume, out there with 2 minutes to play down by one point to rival Fort Myers?
“Sometimes you just have to believe,” Holderfield said.
His faith paid off as Diaz booted a 36-yard field goal and South (4-0) continued its late-game heroics for a fourth straight week on Friday. This time the Wolfpack reeled in a big fish by Lee County standards, knocking off the Green Wave 18-16 at home.
Diaz, more known for his prowess on the soccer field, hadn’t attempted a field goal from that far out in a game.
“I was really scared. I was really nervous,” Diaz said.
South was able to put him in position for the game-winner on the strength of its defense and a pass interference penalty that went in its favor.
The Wolfpack held steady against Fort Myers’ run game at midfield and were the beneficiaries of a miscommunication on a punt attempt that gave them great field position at the Green Wave 45.
Fort Myers safety Dawson Degroot was called for pass interference on a third-and-6. And South running back E’Quan Dorris, who carried 15 times for 52 yards after missing most of last week with tightness in his hamstring, carried his team inside the Fort Myers 10 before a fumble and two incompletions stalled the drive with 2:10 left.
Holderfield sent Diaz out because he saw Diaz consistently making kicks from similar distances in practice.
“I’m proud of myself,” Diaz said. “It wasn’t easy, but I did it.”
Fort Myers played the entire second half without one of the state’s top runners. Senior Darrian Felix left the game after being taken down just before halftime with an arm injury.
Yet the Green Wave drove just beyond midfield with under 2 minutes to play. However, Yasias Young was stuffed on a third-and-1 and then Xavier Perez couldn’t gain a yard on fourth down to seal Fort Myers’ fate.
Dorris and Riley Ware carried for touchdowns on two of South’s first three drives to go up 15-7 in the second quarter.
Fort Myers’ Josias Jean nailed a 46-yard field goal to cut the deficit to five point s with 5:13 left in the first half.
Young put the Green Wave ahead with a touchdown with 8:41 left, capping a 18-play, 71-yard drive that ate up nearly 7 minutes.
SOUTH FORT MYERS 18, FORT MYERS 16
FM 7 | 3 | 0 | 6 — 16
SFM 8 | 7 | 0 | 3 — 18
SFM – E’Quan Dorris 2 run (Jeshaun Jones run), 5:01
FM – Darrian Felix 11 run (Chris Heidt kick), 0:24
SFM – Riley Ware 2 run (Daniel Diaz kick), 7:16
FM – Josias Jean 46 field goal, 5:13
FM – Yasias Young 5 run (Pass failed), 8:41
SFM – Daniel Diaz 36 field goal, 2:10
Rushing – FM, Xavier Perez 15-41, Darrian Felix 9-38, Milan Tucker 7-28, Yasias Young 4-7, Ben Stobaugh 7-7; SFM, E’Quan Dorris 15-52, Riley Ware 7-25, Maurice Flournoy 8-22, Jeshaun Jones 1-3, Brandon Lews 1-3
Passing – FM, Stobaugh 10-18-0-0 78, Dawson Degroot 1-1-0-0 43, Felix 0-1-0-0 0; SFM, Flournoy 8-15-0-0 94.
Receiving – FM, Bensley Bornelus 5-67, Degroot 3-21, Jason Estler 1-14, Tucker 1-10, Pierre Chery 1-9; SFM, Jones 2-33, Lewis 2-32, Austin Smith 3-15, Dorris 1-14