Clyde Townsend trotted to the Southeast High School sideline and received an earful for the blown coverage that led to Sarasota Booker taking a two-score lead in the second half of a pivotal Class 5A-District 11 game Friday at Paul Maechtle Field at John Kiker Memorial Stadium.
Townsend even said he wasn’t focused coming into the crucial contest, in which the winner earned the district’s second playoff berth as a runner-up. But Townsend didn’t sulk or go through the motions for the rest of the contest. Rather, he orchestrated a second-half comeback for the Seminoles’ 28-21 victory over the Tornadoes.
With 3:22 remaining in the third quarter, Townsend burst past Booker’s punt protection and got his hand on the punt, which ricocheted toward the night sky and into teammate D.J. Bryant’s hands.
“I kind of gave him a step and went inside,” Townsend said. “From there, I kind of pushed the blocker into the ball and just blocked the punt.”
Southeast quarterback Alex Taylor ran in a 9-yard touchdown on the next play and closed what was once a 15-0 Booker lead to two points.
Later, senior running back Qion Burch rumbled in for a 3-yard touchdown and cashed in on a two-point conversion to tie the game at 21-21 early in the fourth quarter.
“I saw I was about to fall, so I saw the end zone was right there,” Burch said. “So I reached out and hopefully I took it.”
Booker previously retook the lead through an Arthur Brantley 37-yard touchdown pass to Issac Edwards.
Once Southeast (4-4 overall, 4-1 district) got even with Booker, the Seminoles’ defense rose up to make a stand. Dequan Williams, Jon Locke and a swarm of defenders made key stops on three separate plays to force a Booker punt. Then, the big plays got even bigger for the Noles.
The storied program, which has its own catalog of crazy plays, saw another one take place.
Taylor connected with his go-to receiver in the second half, Jattorius Galloway (five catches, 124 yards), for a 44-yard completion deep into Booker territory late in the fourth quarter.
The next snap saw Taylor sling a pass that a Booker defender tipped into the air toward the back of the end zone.
Southeast’s Bradely Tresalus dove to snatch it for the game-winning touchdown.
“He was in the right spot, I wished we would have thrown it to him initially,” Southeast head coach Rashad West said. “But they deflected and he just made a play and found the ball.”
Booker, though, still had a chance to force overtime. But Brantley was tackled well shy of a first down on a fourth-and-18 on its next possession and ran out of time following a Southeast punt in the final minute.
Now the Seminoles wait for their first-round playoff opponent. Fort Myers Dunbar, Immokalee and Naples Lely are settling their district champion and runner-up in a three-way tiebreaker on Monday.
Jason Dill: 941-745-7017, @Jason__Dill
Southeast 28, Sarasota Booker 21
B — Jamal Benson 16 pass from Arthur Brantley (Benson run), 1:29
B — Talik Keaton 33 pass from Brantley (Keaton kick), 9:48
S — Jattorius Galloway 29 pass from Alex Taylor (Julio Martinez kick), 7:59
S — Taylor 9 run (Pass failed), 3:15
B — Issac Edwards 37 pass from Brantley (Pass failed), 0:28.4
S — Qion Burch 3 run (Burch pass from Taylor), 9:12
S — Bradley Tresalus 10 pass from Taylor (Martinez kick), 4:46
Rushing: Sarasota Booker 48-132: Benson 27-101, Brantley 19-29, Keaton 1-4, Deron Davis 1-(-2). Southeast 22-67: Burch 12-41, Taylor 7-22, Frankie Clercius 1-(-4), Tyler Stevenson 1-6, Latrell Peavy 1-2.
Passing: Sarasota Booker 10-18-0, 142: Brantley 10-17-0, 142, Keaton 0-1-0, 0. Southeast 17-31-0, 223: Taylor 17-31-0, 223.
Receiving: Sarasota Booker 10-142: Davis 1-9, Edwards 2-41, Keaton 5-72, Benson 2-20. Southeast 17-223: Tresalus 4-27, Terrance Pryor 5-50, Clyde Townsend 1-22, Stevenson 2-0, Galloway 5-124.
Who: Manatee at Southeast
When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Paul Maechtle Field at John Kiker Memorial Stadium
Radio: 930 AM