LAKELAND — Trailing 33-14 with 10:18 to go in the third quarter, Bishop Verot needed some luck.
The Vikings lost star tailback William Scott to injury midway through the second quarter and, after Lakeland Tenoroc’s J’Torian Spates hit Luis Martinez for a 65-yard touchdown, they had to overcome a 19-point lead in a little under a half.
And that they did as Korey Besse’s quarterback sneak gave Bishop Verot a 34-33 lead with 22.3 seconds to go before the defense saved the day, tripping up Tenoroc receiver Keyon Walters at the 10 yard line with no time remaining.
“We tell them we’ve got to play for 48 minutes, you’ve got to play, you’ve got to continue to play,” head coach Bill Shields said. “You’ve got to play hard and I’ll think of something we can do. I’m very proud of them.”
The do-or-die game decided the Class 4A, District 6 runner up — giving Bishop Verot a playoff berth in front of 400 fans — and it was all about the defense in the second half for the Vikings. After rushing for nearly 200 yards in the first half, Tenoroc went nowhere in the second half while Bishop Verot chipped away at the lead.
The Vikings’ comeback was jump-started by a 42-yard pass from receiver Deven Thompkins.
The play came after Tenoroc’s third quarter score, but Bishop Verot drove deep into Tenoroc territory before Alex McDougall’s fourth-down pass sailed out of the reach of Gabriel Garcia in the end zone.
Bishop Verot again drove deep into Tenoroc territory midway through the fourth quarter, but McDougall was intercepted by Randall Boykin in the end zone with 6:10 to go.
But finally the offense got moving at the end of the third quarter when Thompkins scored on a 12-yard run. Bishop Verot scored again when Besse found Marcus Evans for a 34-yard touchdown with 3:06 to go. The Titans appeared to ice the game with a run by Spates, but he fumbled after getting the first down.
That led to the final drive of screen passes and scrambles by Besse before the 1-yard score to win the game.
Bishop Verot 7 | 7 | 7 | 13 | FINAL 34
Tenoroc 7 | 20 | 6 | 0 | FINAL 33
BV: Deven Thompkins 15 pass from Korey Besse (Chris Heidt kick)
T: Jedarian Gaskins 26 run (Peyton Whitehead kick)
BV: Gabrial Garcia 19 pass from Besse (Heidt kick)
T: Gaskins 7 run (Whitehead kick blocked)
T: Luis Martinez 28 pass from J’Torian Spates (Whitehead kick)
T: Keyon Walters 36 pass from Spates (Whitehead kick)
T: Martinez 65 pass from Spates (Whitehead no good)
BV: Thompkins 12 run (Heidt kick)
BV: Marcus Evans 35 pass from Korey Besse (Heidt kick)
BV: Besse 1 run (Heidt kick)