ORLANDO — Immokalee coach Jerrod Ackley said he wanted to minimize the turnovers and penalties in Friday afternoon’s state championship game.
His message got through a little too late.
Immokalee committed 10 penalties resulting in 64 yards and turned the ball over three times — a Mackensie Alexander fumble and two Tshumbi Johnson interceptions — in the first 24 minutes.
“It killed us,” Ackley said. “That’s the difference in the game.”
Godby was inside the Immokalee 5-yard line with eight minutes left in the second quarter when an Immokalee player committed a personal foul after a Khalid Thomas run for no gain.
Two plays later Godby fullback Tim Longmire scored from 1 yard out.
Immokalee ran into the same problem on Godby’s next offensive possession.
The Cougars were facing a third-and-3 on the Immokalee 12 when quarterback J.T. Bradwell was able to get Immokalee to commit an encroachment penalty.
Bradwell then put the ball in from 6 yards out, increasing Godby’s lead to 13-0 after missing the extra point attempt.
Immokalee was able to clean up the penalties in the second half, committing just five for 25 yards. Godby on the other hand had 10 penalties in the second half for 84 yards.
“We talked about how penalties and turnovers were killing us,” Ackley said.
“We kept shooting ourselves in the foot. You can’t shoot yourself in the foot and win a state championship.”
The turnovers were kept under wraps in the second until about the 7 minute mark in the fourth quarter.
Facing a third-and-9, Johnson scrambled out of the pocket near the sideline and didn’t see anyone open down field.
Instead of throwing the ball away, he threw straight into the air and Godby’s Bud McDonald intercepted the ball.
Johnson was up and down all day, completing 24-of-39 passes for 301 yards and one touchdown. His three interceptions marred his stat sheet.
“That was how Tshumbi has been his whole career at Immokalee,” Ackley said.
“He gives you 30 plays that are breathtaking and then one play that makes you scratch your head.
“But the kid gives you everything he has. He loves Immokalee, and he loves football. I wouldn’t trade him for anyone else in the world. It was great having him at Immokalee as our quarterback.”