SEBRING — In a game that almost didn’t start and finished after midnight, Sebring powered past Jupiter Christian by a score of 23-13 in its season-opener on Friday night at Firemen’s Field.
The game was delayed for two hours because of lightning, but once it started, Sebring utilized a balanced offense and a swarming, physical defense to overwhelm the Class 2A Eagles.
“I’m glad we got this game in and obviously we got the win, but you could see there is a lot and I mean a lot of work still to do,” said Blue Streak coach LaVaar Scott. “We strived to be balanced on offense and our defense settled in and did a good job of making adjustments.”
Sebring took the opening kick and marched smartly down the field behind the running of sophomore Akeen JnPierre and Duran Randolph and a 30-yard pass play from quarterback Jair Watson to receiver Marvin Jones.
The 13-play, 71-yard drive stalled and Hunter Livingston came on to boot a 25-yard field goal to give the Blue Streaks a 3-0 lead with 5:32 remaining in the first quarter.
“Our offensive line did a good job of blocking and our backs ran hard,” said Scott. “Our passing game is improving and we just need to keep working hard to be more consistent.”
The lead didn’t last long as Jupiter Christian returned the ensuing kick to its 30-yard line, and scored on its first play from scrimmage on a 70-yard pass play from quarterback Bryan Mcglynn to Kurtis Thornton. The extra point gave the Eagles a 7-3 lead.
Sebring went nowhere on offense and was forced to punt. Jupiter Christian failed to gain a first down and on fourth down, a bad snap sailed over the head of the punter and the Blue Streaks recovered the ball on the Jupiter Christian 28.
Sebring scored in one play as Watson connected with Randolph on a beautiful 28-yard touchdown pass in the right corner of the end zone.
The point after by Livingston made it 10-7 with 21.7 seconds left in first quarter.
“Jair managed the game and made the throws we wanted him to make,” said Scott. “I thought he did a good job but he did get a little banged up.”
After a scoreless second quarter, Sebring’s offense went to work in the third quarter as tailback Tony Jenkins ripped off a 16-yard run and Watson hit Donte Savage for a 21-yard pass completion but was hurt on the play.
Silas Berry came in to replace Watson and the junior promptly ran for a 39-yard touchdown down the right sideline. The extra point gave the Blue Streaks a 17-7 lead with 5:47 remaining in the period.
“Silas came in and did a great,” Scott said. “He used his legs and made a big play for us.”
The Sebring defense did a great job of shutting down the versatile passing attack of the Eagles, as Mcglynn, who was sacked four times and harassed countless times, completed only 8 of 20 passes for 127 yards.
“Jupiter Christian did a lot of different things on offense,” said Scott. “After that first pass that went for a touchdown we did a good job of making some adjustments and limited their passing game.”
Sebring sealed the game midway through the final quarter as JnPierre broke several tackles on his way to a 14-yard touchdown run through the heart of the Jupiter Christian defense.
The extra point was no good, but the Blue Streaks held a commanding 23-7 lead.
“We have a lot of talented backs and we haven’t even scratched the surface with them yet,” Scott said. “We haven’t put in our entire offense, but we’re getting there.”
Jupiter Christian took advantage of a bad snap on a Sebring punt late in the game and recovered the ball on the Blue Streaks 23.
The Eagles were able to capitalize as Mcglynn scored on a quarterback keeper on the last play of the game for the final score.
“It’s a good win, but we’re going to work on every aspect of the game in practice this week,” said Scott. “Our conditioning isn’t where it needs to be and we have to cut out all of these penalties.
Up next for the Class 6A Blue Streaks is a home game on Friday night against a talented Okeechobee team.
“Okeechobee is much better than they were last year,” Scott said. “They have some good speed, we have speed and it should be a good game.”