Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Inspired Golden Eagles Top Panthers, Move to 5-0; Fleming Island Wins Battle of Unbeatens after a Tragic Week

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Inspired Golden Eagles Top Panthers, Move to 5-0; Fleming Island Wins Battle of Unbeatens after a Tragic Week

Article excerpt

Byline: Phillip Heilman

Fleming Island coach Damenyum Springs knew how difficult this week was for his players.

Because it was just as tough on him.

A day after the death of two-sport athlete Ben Johnson, Fleming Island used a swarming defense and strong dose of special teams to hold on and beat Ridgeview 28-20 Friday night, securing a victory that meant more than most players could put into words.

"This week was so emotional," Fleming Island running back Chauncey Garrison said. "Physically. Mentally. It was hard. We just had to fight through it all week, and we did it for Ben. That felt good. Everything we did today, we did it for Ben."

And they did it together.

The Golden Eagles (5-0) came out slow but scored three first-half touchdowns on drives that began in Ridgeview territory, overcoming a Panthers offense that came out hot against one of the area's strongest defenses.

Garrison powered in for a 6-yard touchdown following a fumble recovery by linebacker Ryan Smenda.

Isaiah Walker punched in a 2-yard score following a short punt.

And five plays after defensive back Eugene Oglesby pulled down an interception, quarterback Dean Hyams found Logan Motes in the end zone with less than a minute remaining in the first half to give the Golden Eagles a 21-14 lead, their first of the game.

Even Fleming Island's lone score in the second half came on a drive that started deep in Ridgeview territory following another short punt. Anfernee McCaskill ran in that score for a 5-yard touchdown.

"That team's too good for us to give them four or five turnovers and give them the ball inside the 25-yard line over and over," said Ridgeview coach Cameron Porch, whose team lost two fumbles and threw two interceptions. "That kind of did us in."

Still, the Panthers (4-1) showed they are a long way removed from a team that entered the season winless in their previous 18 games. Their comeback simply ran out of time.

The Panthers clawed back to make it 28-20 on a touchdown pass from Kiaran Turner to Denali Lindo late in the fourth quarter and forced a three-and-out on the following Golden Eagles possession. …

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