Ida Baker's perfect season is gone. Cape Coral's bid for a district postseason slot was severely damaged. Island Coast celebrated homecoming and a lopsided victory, their sixth straight win since a season-opening loss to Baker.
All of that occurred last Friday night under the lights. Ahead for Baker (7-1) this Friday lies perhaps a tougher opponent than South Fort Myers was as the Charlotte Tarpons (6-2) come calling at Bulldogs Field. Cape Coral (5-3) hosts Lehigh (1-6). Island Coast (6-1, 5-0 district) lead the District 5A-14 standings and hosts second-place Dunbar (5-2, 4-0) with the district championship perhaps hanging in the balance.
Baker is now in a fight to the finish after South Fort Myers rolled the Bulldogs 42-17 to take command of District 6A-12.
The Wolfpack (6-2, 2-0) did it the old-fashioned way - running it down the Bulldogs' throats. South ran for 323 yards and six touchdowns. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs turned the ball over six times, three fumbles and three interceptions, in suffering their first loss of the season.
"You want to be a district championship football team," Baker coach Brian Conn said. "They were the example of how to do that. They took care of the ball. They were physical, made big plays on offense. Their defense, I feel like we statistically probably moved the ball, but they were bend not break and forced a lot of turnovers. We had four in the first half. You can't beat a team like South doing that."
As a result, Baker faces a must-win at home Nov. 1 against East Lee County (0-6) in the district season finale to seal a playoff appearance as the district runner-up.
"We still have the opportunity to go into the playoffs," Conn said. "Nothing's guaranteed. We've still got two hard games left, one of them being in the district. I hope our guys want to come right back to the field for round two (of the playoffs) and a chance to play these guys again. I know I want to."
South's running game gouged huge holes in Baker's defense, including two 65-yard runs. The Wolfpack had 271 yards rushing in the first half alone.
Kelsey Dawson and Justin Hutchins had two touchdowns each for the Wolfpack.
The Bulldogs were piling up the yards (260), and the mistakes over the first two periods. They spent most of the first half in South territory, but gave up the ball four times. Baker coughed up two fumbles inside the Wolfpack 10, and D'Ronzjiah Matthews intercepted Sage Attwood twice. Matthews also recovered one of the Baker fumbles.
The Bulldogs had 16 first downs and only10 points to show for it at the half. Alex Febles opened the scoring with an 8-yard run and Filander Barahona kicked a 29-yard field goal to give Baker a very brief 10-7 lead early in the second quarter.
Ida Baker 0 21 7 14 - 42
South FM 0 10 7 0 - 17
B - Alex Febles 8 run (Filander Barahona kick).
SFM - Justin Hutchins 3 run (Jacob Althouse kick).
B - FG, Barahona 29.
SFM - Noel Penn 65 run (Althouse kick)
SFM - Kelsey Dawson 22 run (Althouse kick)
SFM - Dawson 38 run (Althouse kick)
B - Sage Attwood 18 pass to Roy Denson (Barahona kick)
SFM - E'Quan Dorris 9 run (Althouse kick)
SFM - Hutchins 19 run (Althouse kick)
Dunbar 24, Cape Coral 9: "Don't take this too hard, son," Cape Coral coach Larry Gary told quarterback Dylan Bontrager afterwards. "This is a team game, believe me, and you're something else. You've got nothing to be ashamed of. This is just a part of sports."
Bontrager wasn't quite ready to accept the affirmation. Instead, the 5-foot-10 junior simply stood and stared as the gravity of the district loss set in.
"It hit me," Bontrager said, his reddened eyes portraying a mix of emotion and fatigue. "This was a playoff game for us. I had faith. I'm gonna remember it for a while. It's hard to let this one go."
The loss dropped the Seahawks to 6-3 overall and 3-2 in district play and perhaps eliminated them from the postseason unless they get help in the final two weeks that might not materialize.
"We kissed that one away. We beat ourselves, you saw it," Gary said.
Trailing just 12-7 at halftime, the Seahawks crossed into Dunbar territory on three of its first four possessions of the second half, including a march all the way to the Tigers' 2-yard line over 12 plays to begin the third quarter. That drive ended in sequential frustration when consecutive runs by Eamon Smart, Jordan Lewis, Smart again and Bontrager failed to cross the goal line.
Drives two and three ended in punts after generating an inglorious total of minus 14 yards, and the fourth chance was snuffed out by a fumble on a botched exchange with wildcat quarterback Rasheen Bailey. Dunbar's Caleb Stewart pounced on the loose ball, and, one play later, Tigers QB Daniel Cobb hit Bob Rice for a 15-yard TD pass with just 5:06 remaining.
That score ended a stretch of six straight stops strung together by the Seahawks defense, which had kept Dunbar off the board since the first quarter.
"I kept thinking, We've gotta score. We're gonna score," Bontrager said. "Every time there was a turnover or a stop or anything, we've gotta put the ball in the end zone. That's our job. I was thinking, We're scoring. I don't care, we're scoring."
A fumbled snap by Bontrager (9-for-26, 137 yards) ended a subsequent Cape drive on the Tigers' 1-yard line with 2:57 left, though the Seahawks got two points back when Cobb was hauled down in the end zone for a safety.
Cape took possession again following a free kick, but Bontrager's desperation fourth-down throw was picked off and returned for a touchdown by Rasheed Golden.
Dunbar 12 0 0 12 - 24
Cape Coral 0 7 0 2 - 9
D - Bronson 16 pass from Cobb (kick failed)
D - Cobb 40 run (pass failed)
CC - Cole 44 pass from Bontrager (Perez kick)
D - Rice 15 pass from Cobb (pass failed)
CC - Safety, Cobb tackled in end zone
D - Golden 15 interception return (pass failed)
Island Coast 64, Cypress Lake 6: The Gators snapped up a 21-point lead within 40 seconds and never looked back.
Korey Murphy took the opening kickoff at the 20-yard line, broke through a couple of tackles and raced down the left sideline for an 80-yard TD return.
Cypress could not handle the ensuing kick cleanly and the Gators had the ball at the Panthers' 32. Junior tailback Zelan Lambert accounted for all the yards, and on the third play of the drive went in from three yards out.
Panthers QB Kyndall Douglas couldn't find the snap and the ball was recovered by the Gators. Again it was Lambert bursting untouched for his second score. The point-after by Quinn Bourque made it 21-0 with 11:20 remaining in the first quarter.
The Panthers offense stalled and the Gators took over at the 46. Bourque and Lambert rushed for big gains before Teddy Mitchell got on the scoreboard with a six-yard run through the heart of the defense.
The teams traded interceptions before the Gators reminded everyone they had a passing attack to complement the ground game. Bourque connected with James Washington in the front of the end zone for a 17-yard score and 35-0 lead.
Another Panthers fumble put the Gators at the 46. Bourque went to work finding senior Christian Banasiak for a 43-yard gain. He then found Christian Diaz for a three-yard score and a 42-0 lead. The final score of the half came when Bourque found Murphy in the flats for an eight-yard TD play and 49-0 halftime lead.
"They've practiced hard all week and it's tough to reign them in, they want to win," said Gators coach Joe Bowen.
The Gators did not attempt a pass the entire second half.
Cypress Lake 0 0 0 6 - 6
Island Coast 35 14 7 8 - 64
IC - Murphy 85 kickoff return ( Bourque kick)
IC - Lambert 4 run (Bourque kick)
IC - Lambert 3 run (Bourque kick)
IC - Mitchell 6 run (Bourque kick)
IC - Washington 17 pass from Bourque (Bourque kick)
IC - Diaz 3 pass from Bourque (Bourque kick)
IC - Murply 7 pass from Bourque (Bourque kick)
IC - Bourque 8 run (Bourque kick)
IC - Lantz 5 run (Murphy run)
CL - Moore 52 run (conv failed)
Freelance writers Pete Sisk, Lyle Fitzsimmons and Neil Blair-Bennett contributed to this report.