Out-of-Door Academy head coach Ken Sommers figured that neither his team nor Fort Myers Evangelical Christian School would need much in terms of points to win Thursday night’s spring game.
A muddy field like the one at Thunder Stadium usually leads to low-scoring affairs, and this game was no different. Despite only managing 30 yards of total offense in the first half, ODA quarterback Tyler Beasley connected for a pair of late touchdown passes to lead the Thunder to a 16-8 win over the Sentinels.
Offense was at a premium as the teams tried to manage the muddy track over the opening two quarters. Late in the second quarter, ODA took over near midfield and did just enough to get Filip Svoboda in position to connect on a 37-yard field goal for the game’s first points.
“I think we were pleased to be up 3-0 at that point,” Sommers said. “To get that long field goal on this type of field you thought maybe that could be enough.”
ODA used its “Thundercat” offense featuring tailback Austin Brining for a spark to open the second half. That put the Thunder in position to score until Noah Matthews picked off a long pass by Beasley and returned it deep into ODA territory.
The Thunder, strong defensively all night on fourth down, kept the Sentinels from scoring on the drive. Beasley made ECS pay when he led ODA on its longest drive of the game and finished things off with a 25-yard rainbow pass to Julien Brown for a touchdown.
Beasley put more points on the board when he hit tailback James Ward on a swing pass to the left. Ward did the rest, using his speed to get past the Sentinel defense for a 64-yard touchdown.
“We’re blessed to have a lot of athletes, so we try and spread things out and give a lot of different looks so our athletes can excel in space,” Sommers said.
ECS erased the Thunder’s hope of a shutout with a late score, but the Sentinels were unable to get the ball back in the final three minutes as ODA went on to its first spring win since 2011.
“We had some nerves at the start. Offense always trails defense in terms of implementation,” Sommers said. “It was nice to see things click a little bit tonight.
Jarred Flahive led ODA with 61 yards rushing on eight carries. Ward had 66 yards on a pair of catches.