LITTLE RIVER-ACADEMY — This was one homecoming the Academy Bumblebees won’t soon forget.
After seeing their first-half lead slip away to an 11-point deficit, the Bees scored 15 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to overtake Cameron Yoe 32-28 in a pivotal District 11-3A-I contest Friday night at John Glover Stadium.
Academy quarterback Kasey Mraz hit Scout Brazeal in the left corner of the end zone for a 25-yard touchdown pass that provided the game-winning points with 2:59 left to play.
Although it was a game of spectacular offensive plays, one critical defensive stop led to the Bees’ victory.
With a 28-25 lead and the ball at their 31, the Yoemen elected to go for it on fourth-and-1. The Bees’ interior line stuffed Phaibian Bynaum short of the needed yardage and took over with a short field and 4:03 remaining.
Following a Mraz completion to Darion Franklin, Mraz went deep for Brazeal, who caught it behind his defender and fell on his back with the ball securely in his mitts.
The Yoemen began their final drive from their 3 after Pharrell Hemphill was trapped by Bees special teamers on the kickoff. They managed to move to midfield but turned it over on downs with 6 seconds left to make it official for Academy in what is believed to be the program’s first victory over Yoe.
Academy improved to 6-1 overall and 2-1 in district while Yoe slipped to 2-5, 2-1.
Yoe earned its first lead of the game with the only score of the third quarter — Fabian Salomon banging in from the 2 — to go up 21-17. Yoe added to that early in the fourth on a 10-yard tally for Bynaum and a 28-17 advantage.
The Bees took over from there, answering with an 80-yard drive in eight plays with Mraz hitting Zane Clark for a 27-yard TD and then Franklin on the 2-point conversion to move them within three, 28-25.
Mraz was a surgeon, connecting on 18 of 24 attempts for 250 yards.
Academy opened the game by carving up the Yoe defense for an opening drive of 74 yards in nine plays, mixing the pass and run before Mraz put the Bees on the board with a 3-yard keeper.
Yoe wasted little time in answering by moving 61 yards in seven plays with Mraz’s counterpart, Ryan Muniz, going in from the 4 for a touchdown and a 7-7 game, which is how the first quarter ended.
A time-consuming 12-play, 64-yard drive put the Bees back on top early in the second quarter. Academy collected four first downs before Brayden Bartlett stepped into the end zone from the 1 to make it 14-7 with 10:31 left in the half.
As before, the Yoemen answered by going 90 yards in nine plays, but the majority of that coming when Muniz found a wide open Hemphill for a 51-yard touchdown pass to tie the game 14-14. Muniz finished the game 20-of-35 for 242 yards and one interception.
Academy moved inside the red zone on its third offensive possession but settled for Blake Bundy’s 32-yard field goal with 3:49 to go in the half.
The Yoemen moved into scoring position late in the half, but Lane Ward picked off Muniz’s pass inside the 10 to stop the threat, and the Bees clung to a 17-14 lead at halftime.
ACADEMY 32, CAMERON YOE 28
Yoe 7 7 7 7 — 28
Academy 7 10 0 15 — 32
Aca — Kasey Mraz 3 run (Blake Bundy kick)
Yoe — Ryan Muniz 4 run (Angel Martinez kick)
Aca — Brayden Bartlett 1 run (Bundy kick)
Yoe — Pharrell Hemphill 51 pass from Muniz (Martinez kick)
Aca — Bundy 32 field goal
Yoe — Fabian Salomon 2 run (Martinez kick)
Yoe — Phaibian Bynaum 10 run (Martinez kick)
Aca — Zane Clark 27 pass from Mraz (Darion Franklin pass from Mraz)
Aca — Scout Brazeal 25 pass from Mraz (Bundy kick)
First downs 18 22
Rushes-yards 28-119 33-121
Passing yards 242 250
Comp.-Att.-Int. 20-35-1 18-24-0
Punts-average 1-52 1-41
Fumbles-lost 1-0 1-0
Penalties-yards 4-50 9-72
RUSHING — Yoe: Bynaum 15-63, Muniz 10-36, Kason Goolsby 1-18, Salomon 2-2; Academy: Clark 11-38, Mraz 10-36, Bartlett 7-18, Franklin 1-2.
PASSING — Yoe: Muniz 20-35-1-242; Academy: Mraz 18-24-0-250.
RECEIVING — Yoe: Hemphill 4-114, Goolsby 11-61, Jaidyn Sanchez 2-33, Trayjen Wilcox 2-20; Academy: Franklin 6-91, Brazeal 3-58, Bundy 4-43, Clark 2-36, Alex Lawton 1-14, Jareese White 1-9, Luke Tomasek 1-(-1).