OKEECHOBEE — Antywyn ‘Bubba’ Fludd ran and threw for a touchdown as Okeechobee rallied to defeat Clewiston 22-19 in high school football Friday, breaking a three-game Brahman losing streak to Clewiston, and matching the school record for wins in a season with eight.
OHS (8-1) tries to slay the dragon Nov. 11 when they travel to Daytona Beach Mainland (10-0) in the Class 6A playoffs. Clewiston (5-4) moves on to host Miami Edison (7-2) in the Class 4A playoffs next Friday.
Okeechobee played without five starters who sat out with injuries. They won by refusing to lose, playing together as a team, and getting big plays when they needed them on both sides of the ball.
“When the plays needed to be made, the guys stepped forward as a team and made plays,” coach Chris Branham said. “The offensive line played tough and together, everyone on this team feels awfully good.”
Okeechobee twice had to rally in the game. They trailed 13-0 in the first quarter after the Tigers scored on an opening six play 80-yard drive, recovered a Brahman fumble and scored again. Just six minutes into the game the Brahmans looked headed for defeat.
‘I never doubt the heart of this team and I never doubt the ability of these young men,” coach Branham said. “I’m the proudest football coach in the United States of America.”
Linebacker Jessie Mond said the early deficit kind of shocked the team back to reality. “We talked it over and got through it. I told the two substitutes around me, I will teach you through this game and that we are going to win.”
Menta Jones took the first play from scrimmage 80 yards for a touchdown. Twenty yards downfield a Tiger committed a holding penalty to negate the play. It became a trend. A second Tiger touchdown on a pass from Jones to Reed Martin, was also negated by a penalty in the second half. The Tigers also turned the ball over three times.
Jones played well at the start as he threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Jadan Thompson and later threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Ja’markis Weston.
The Tiger defense also dominated early as the Brahmans had just one first down in the first quarter.
Fludd started the comeback when he escaped for a remarkable 49-yard run, twice nearly falling to the turf but regaining his balance. On the next play he had enough left for a 25-yard run.
Fludd ended up with 130 yards in rushing on 14 carries. Fludd capped the scoring by buying time on a roll-out pass and finding Andravious Stallworth in the end zone for an 18-yard touchdown.
The defense stopped Clewiston on their next drive and Okeechobee promptly drove 50 yards in five plays to take the lead. Backup quarterback Logan Etherton (5-8 for 74 yards) did a nice job leading the drive with passes of 10 yards to Fludd and 28 yards to Stallworth for a first and goal. He finished off the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run to give Okeechobee a 14-13 halftime lead.
Branham said he felt if his team could keep the game close at halftime his team could win the game.
“We have faced adversity and come back all season. This was a very tough Clewiston team who just beat Glades Central. I feel this is the finest hour in Okeechobee football history,” he said.
Clewiston went back in front 19-14 with an eight-play 65-yard touchdown drive in the third quarter.
Markevious Terry, who had 146 yards rushing, broke loose for a 35-yard run and finished off the drive with a 6-yard touchdown run. Jose Benitez point after touchdown attempt was blocked by Fludd to keep the Tigers in front by five.
Clewiston had another chance to score late in the third as they drove to the Okeechobee 35. Stallworth leaped into the air to intercept a Jones pass intended for Thompson at the OHS 15-yard line to end the threat.
The turning point came early in the fourth when Trayquan Williams fumbled at the Clewiston 23-yard line. Juan’yae Ford, out for a month with a knee injury, recovered for the Brahmans. On the next play, Fludd escaped the rush for a 23-yard touchdown run to give Okeechobee a 20-19 lead. After a pass interference call, Fludd ran in the two-point conversion to give OHS a 22-19 lead.
Ford said the Brahmans had combined for four wins in his first three years on the team and it felt amazing to have an eight win season.
“Everybody on the team was hurting. I knew the team needed help and they needed someone to play. I try my best to help my team whenever I can,” he said.
Clewiston had two other chances. They drove inside the Brahman 40 with four minutes left but a high snap cost them to lose 18 yards. In the final minute they drove to the Brahman 23-yard line. Benitez attempt at a tying field goal was blocked by Ford and the Brahman defense.
“I’m just a part of this,” coach Branham said. “The young men accomplished this. I give all the praise to God for the work he has done with me and these young men,” he added.
Menta Jones ran for 49 yards for Clewiston. Stallworth had a career high 78 yards in receptions for OHS. Kysell Richardson had a first-half interception for the Brahmans. Trayquan Williams rushed for 43 yards for Clewiston who had 247 yards rushing as a team.
Brahmans with tackles for loss included Mond, Ford, Tanner Thornton, Mateo Martinez, and Joseph Benjamin. Tigers with tackles for loss included Charles Felton, Jadan Thompson with three, Ethan Ridgdill, Ja’markis Weston and Wellestey Madurie.
Charles M. Murphy is a staff writer for the Okeechobee News