Seahawks finally take down Braves

Tina Harbuck The Destin Log

It’s been a long time coming.

The South Walton Seahawks finally beat cross-county rival the Walton County Braves 51-27 in high school football action, but not before some drama.

Walton had the ball first and after a bad snap over the quarterback’s head the Seahawks’ Jeremiah Crittenden picked it up for a 30-yard scoop and score just under a minute into the game.

Walton got the ball again and was forced to punt. But before they could, lightning struck forcing an hour-and-a-half game delay.

For safety reasons, the field and stadium was cleared at 7:10 p.m.

And after a lot of sitting in cars, and players in the school and locker rooms, the game resumed at 8:40 p.m.

But the weather delay didn’t dampen the spirits of either team or the fans for the rivalry game.

Walton finally got their punt off and South Walton fumbled on their first play from scrimmage.

The Braves came out fired up and scored on a 40-yard pass play. Thomas Brack handed off to Kentrell Parker, who aired it out to J.B. Baker for the score. The 2-point conversion attempt failed and the game was tied at 6-6.

South Walton had the ball again and made one first down on a 12-yard completion from Jack Bruner to Austin Garofalo. Four plays later, the Seahawks had to punt.

Walton picked up a first down on a 16-yard run by Brack and South Walton was hit with a personal foul call, giving the Braves the ball at about mid-field. Two plays later, Brack was picked off by South Walton’s Jake Bari.

South Walton, starting from its own 30-yard line, picked up a first on a 10-yard run. Two plays later, Bruner aired it out to Garofalo, who made the catch but couldn’t keep his footing. He made it to the 1-yardline for a 51-yard gain. After losing a little bit of ground on the first play, South Walton’s Bruner hit Ben Belfanz for a 3-yard score. The 2-point try was no good, but the Seahawks led 12-6.

In the second quarter, Walton tied it up and took the lead when Parker returned a punt 60 yards for the score. Brack kicked in the point after for a 13-12 advantage.

Late in the second quarter, Walton scored again when Parker capped off a nine-play drive with a 4-yard run across the goal line. Brack kicked in the extra point and the Braves led 20-12.

With 30 seconds to go in the first half, the Seahawks had the ball at the 45 and Bruner was intercepted by Walton’s Parker. The Braves took a knee and ran out the clock.

To start the third, South Walton drove the field and made it deep into the red zone before turning it over on downs to the Braves.

A couple of minutes later, South Walton had the ball again, this time they settled for a 27-yard field goal by Garofalo for a 20-15 game.

After a couple of interceptions by both teams, South Walton took the lead. Jireh Crittenden scored on a 35-yard run up the middle, and Bruner connected with Belfanz for the 2-point conversion and a 23-20 game.

The fourth quarter was pretty much all South Walton, with not just the offense scoring.

Jireh Crittenden scored again on a 13-yard run and Garofalo kicked in another extra point for a 30-20 game.

Then South Walton’s Payton Strain picked up a Walton fumble and ran it back 50-yards for a Seahawk TD. Garofalo kicked in the extra point for 37-20 game.

“I wasn’t thinking,” said the out-of-breath lineman Strain on the sideline a few minutes later. “I was just thinking ‘I’ve got to go forward.’ ”

South Walton scored again with 6 minutes to play on a 5-yard catch and run from Bruner to Bari.

On Walton’s next possession, Jireh Crittenden picked off a Brack pass and ran it back 35-yards for the score. Garofalo kicked in the point after for a 51-20 lead.

In the final seconds of play, Walton scored on a 37-yard run by Keandre Holmes. Brack booted in the point after for a 51-27 finish at 11:30 p.m.

“We were our own worst enemy the first half,” said South Walton Coach Phil Tisa. “Three turnovers and the penalties. We’ve just got to get out of our own way.”

But he was still excited about the win.

“I think it’s huge … getting over that mental hump of never have beaten somebody before, it’s exciting.”