If the game didn’t mean so much to two teams trying to salvage postseason berths out of otherwise disappointing seasons, it would have been impossible not to be laughably entertained by all the bad tackles and broken coverages, dropped passes and ill-timed penalties and even curious officiating.
There was also plenty of game-breaking plays, though, and in the end Friday night, Cape Coral somehow was the survivor in a 48-42 defeat of host Lehigh to keep alive its postseason hopes in District 5A-11 while almost certainly ending Lehigh’s.
Capitalizing on the last of several major momentum shifts, the Seahawks (4-4, 3-1) scored the game’s final 20 points after Lehigh (2-6, 2-2) had taken a 42-28 lead midway through the third quarter.
Each side netted more than 400 yards while combining for more than 900 yards (Lehigh 477, Cape 427), and that doesn’t even count the alternating, 97-yard kickoff returns for touchdowns on consecutive plays in the first quarter, Lehigh’s 55-yard punt return for a touchdown in the second quarter or Cape Coral’s 70-yard interception return for a touchdown in the third quarter.
Perhaps fittingly considering how volatile the night was, it wasn’t over until Lehigh senior quarterback Da’Vonte White, who did everything for his team except polish helmets, launched a game-ending Hail Mary pass from the Cape Coral 36-yard line out of the back of the end zone.
White ran 26 times for 157 yards and one score and was 12-of-21 passing for 148 yards with two interceptions, including Rasheen Bailey’s pick-six on the last play of the second quarter to allow Cape to even the score 28-28 at halftime.
Bruising Lehigh runner Guillermo Hernandez pounded out 149 yards and three scores on just 10 carries and was grinding down the Cape Coral defense in the third quarter.
But he left the game after taking a hard shot on the thigh in the third quarter, one play before a Lehigh fumble helped spark Cape’s rally.
Cape, which road the arm of senior quarterback Trey Daniels for 288 yards and two scores on 21-of-42 passing with one interception, closed within 42-35 when Daniels scrambled and found a wide-open Kyle Fischl in the back of the end zone late in the third quarter.
Then after a 64-yard completion to an uncovered Fischl moved Cape to the Lehigh 11 in the fourth quarter, Daniels brushed off a tackler and found Rashaan Gaymon for a 19-yard score on 4th and 18 to tie the game 42-42 with 6:53 to play.
Lehigh had to punt, and Cape converted third and fourth downs on a 13-play drive that ended with Daniels’ game-winning touchdown plunge with 1:18 left.