LAKEWOOD RANCH -- The Out-of-Door Academy Thunder knew Friday's homecoming date with the Southwest Florida Christian Kings was an opportunity to get over the .500 mark for the first time this season, and they did not let their raucous fans down.
Riding the golden arm of senior quarterback Evan Wilson, the Thunder (4-3, 3-2 Class 2A urban-District 6) compiled 341 yards of passing offense and cruised to a 52-16 victory.
Wilson commanded the pocket, delivering on 12 of his 16 pass attempts, often stepping up and shifting in the pocket to avoid pressure.
Austin Hoppe led a receiving corps that made a pass-heavy night for the Thunder possible, catching two passes for 120 yards, including a 70-yard touchdown in the second quarter.
The home team fed off of a packed crowd at Thunder Stadium, and Wilson led his team to a quick score on a 20-yard pass to senior Brandon Place less than two minutes into the game.
Place was determined to make his last homecoming memorable, intercepting Kings quarterback Terrence De Avila in the first quarter to set up ODA's second score, a nine-yard Julian Gardinier touchdown run.
ODA relied heavily on the pass, but JT Fischer, Gardinier, Austin Hoppe and Wilson kept the Knight defense honest with designed runs and scrambles that gained the Thunder 125 total rush yards.
The defense also held its end, forcing a safety on a high snap in the second quarter to put the Thunder ahead 15-0.
That defensive touchdown would ignite a scoring frenzy in the second quarter, and Wilson continued it with a 46-yard touchdown pass to Fischer on a seam pattern up the left hash mark.
With the score 22-8, Wilson and the Thunder ended any momentum the Kings (2-5, 1-5) gained with a 70 yard touchdown pass to Austin Hoppe.
Wilson completed multiple long passes and kept it himself on a 3 yard keeper to give ODA a backbreaking 36-16 halftime lead.
After a Southwest Florida Christian safety, Place capitalized on the next possession when he hauled in a 16-yard pass from fellow Wilson giving ODA a 45-16 lead.
Replacement quarterback Tyler Dietrich scored on a quarterback keep in the fourth quarter to put the final touches on an ODA victory in which coach Brett Timmons was particularly proud of his seniors: "I think the seniors wanted to end their homecoming on a high note. ... Evan Wilson, Brandon Place, Wyatt Page, Julian Gardinier, and Sean Kirshe wanted to end their year on a good note."