After a fumbled first play, ODA rallies to a 41-8 win on Friday night.
They say first impressions are everything.
That certainly wasn’t the case for the Out-of-Door Academy football team on the first play from scrimmage against Bayshore Christian School on Friday night.
The host Thunder lost a fumble on a botched handoff on their first offensive play of the game before rallying for 41 unanswered first-half points in a 41-8 whitewashing of Bayshore Christian.
Junior tailbacks Jarred Flahive and Colin Castro each scored two first-half rushing touchdowns and combined for 109 rushing yards before halftime as ODA (2-0) jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter and never looked back in its regular season home opener at Thunder Stadium.
Visiting Bayshore Christian (0-2) recovered ODA’s botched handoff at the Thunder 37-yard line and nearly took an early first quarter lead before ODA sophomore Nolan Lewellen made a diving interception in the right corner of the end zone off a pass from Justin Santiago.
The Thunder responded with a five-play, 80-yard drive capped by Castro’s 27-yard touchdown run to make it 7-0 as all five of ODA’s offensive plays went for first downs on the drive.
The Thunder have now started 2-0 for the second straight year. They finished last year 6-2 overall, falling to Saint Stephen’s Episcopal School in the second round of the SSAC playoffs.
Sophomore signal-caller Tyler Beasley connected with Julien Brown for a 20-yard touchdown pass to open the second quarter on ODA’s fourth drive of the game.
It was the Thunder’s first of four second quarter touchdowns, as Flahive and Castro each followed suit with touchdown runs of eight and 12 yards, respectively, to give ODA a commanding 34-0 lead with 5 minutes left in the second quarter. Flahive and Castro finished with 61 and 48 rushing yards in the first half while Beasley was 5-for-8 for 66 yards and a touchdown before the halftime break.
“We’ve had some big shoes to replace from last year, but Beasley has stepped into that role and just done a tremendous job,” said ODA coach Chris Kempton. “He’s a tremendous leader and going to be a heck of a quarterback.”
A botched Bayshore Christian punt on the Faith Warriors’ opening drive gave ODA good field possession at the opponent’s 29-yard line. All it took were two plays from there as the Thunder made it 14-0 when Flahive juked multiple defenders on a 26-yard rush up the right sideline.
Freshman running back Grady Paxton tacked on a 16-yard touchdown run with less than a minute remaining in the first half to give ODA a 41-0 lead and force an early running clock.
The Thunder defense limited Bayshore Christian to just 13 yards of total offense and three first downs in the first half, all of which came on the Faith Warriors’ first drive of the game.
“You get the guys playing well up front, and that makes a huge difference,” Kempton said. “Our program has come a long way from three years ago. Now, with some wins and some confidence the guys believe in what we’re doing, it’s just a different mindset with our program.”
Bayshore Christian, which dressed just 14 players in uniform for the contest, scored its lone touchdown of the night on a 15-yard touchdown pass from Santiago to Garrett Kirkpatrick to open the fourth quarter. The Faith Warriors also converted the two-point play on another pass from Santiago to Kirkpatrick to make it 41-8 with 10:14 remaining in the contest.
The Thunder travel to Lakeland on Friday to play the Santa Fe Catholic Hawks, whom they trounced 42-6 in a first-round home playoff victory last season.