In the early going of Friday night’s Class 6A-District 12 showdown at Golden Gate High School, Barron Collier appeared to be zooming along on cruise control.
The Cougars were almost running on fumes at the finish line … but they got there.
Barron Collier (5-1, 1-0) needed a 9-yard touchdown pass from Jason Grimes to Luke Hancock with 9:38 remaining to rally past the Titans, 22-19. The district-opening loss was Golden Gate’s first defeat of the season after a program-best 5-0 start.
“We were up 15-0 and kinda took our foot off the gas pedal,” Barron Collier coach Mark Jackson said. “We had a chance to go up three scores and then we let them back in it, but I’m proud of the way we played four quarters. That’s a good football team that we beat.”
Golden Gate got back into the game with less than two minutes to go before halftime. Quarterback Ryan Magel, back from a multi-week absence due to injury, found Kevin Jean Jacques for a 16-yard touchdown pass. Agustin Morales’ extra point made it 15-7 at the break.
Kenson Marcelin made it 15-13 when he returned a Cougars fumble 86 yards for a touchdown with 8:32 left in the third quarter. The Titans’ attempt to tie the game with a two-point conversion failed. But their comeback didn’t stop there.
Barron fumbled again on its next possession, and this time Patrice Jean Baptiste scooped it up and ran it back to the Cougars’ 13-yard line. One play later, Jouvensly Bazile darted into the end zone to give the Titans a 19-15 lead.
Not to be deterred, the Cougars recovered a Titans fumble with 10:26 to play, setting up Grimes and Hancock’s winning TD hookup.
“We’ve been getting better as a team every day,” Hancock said. “We know we have to clean up some things, but we’re focused on doing what we have to do to improve week by week.”
Drew Powell once again was BC’s bell cow, rushing for 187 yards and two touchdowns — the second a 51-yard score. He emerged with the upper hand over Bazile in the duel between two of Collier County’s most dynamic running backs. Bazile rushed for 139 yards and one score.
Powell said all the hard work his team has put in is beginning to pay off. But he knows there’s plenty more to do.
“We may not be there yet, but we’ll get there,” said Powell, who gashed Mariner for 221 yards last week in a 58-43 win. “We know the playoffs are within our reach, so everyone’s going harder. There’s something to work for now.”
Barron Collier will host Gulf Coast this Friday in the teams’ annual Catfish Bowl meeting. Golden Gate doesn’t play next week; it visits Naples on Oct. 12.
“Every game is like a playoff game from here on out,” Jackson said. “That’s the way we’re approaching it. It’s not gonna get any easier and we’ve got a lot of guys banged up, but we’re ready to go.”