There was no panic among the Buccaneers flag football team’s players and coaching staff when they faced rival Seabreeze on the afternoon of Thursday, April 11, at the Ormond Beach Sports Complex.
Not when Sandcrabs quarterback Bailey McQuarrie connected with receiver Kara Haas for a 57-yard touchdown 3 minutes into the game.
Not when the Buccaneers’ first offensive play, a pitch by freshman quarterback Alexa Wilson, was intercepted by Haas.
Not when McQuarrie picked off Wilson near the end of the first quarter.
And not when the Buccaneers forgot to cover Seabreeze’s Giuliana Klioze, who took a pass 36 yards untouched into the end zone to give the Sandcrabs a 13-0 lead heading at halftime.
Throughout the entirety of Thursday’s game, there was no doubt in the outcome.
“It’s going to be a tough fight in the district. Seabreeze is going to be in the district championship. I would almost guarantee that. They’re too good of a football team not to be.”
Scott Wilson, Mainland coach
“I knew we had it,” Mainland’s Arin Dixon said. “I didn’t think about losing because I knew we were going to win because I wanted it — we wanted it.”
The Buccaneers figured out their offensive woes near the end of the third quarter. Wilson dodged a pair of Sandcrabs defenders on her way to an 18-yard touchdown run. The Buccaneers converted the extra point to cut the lead to 13-7 as the third quarter expired.
The Sandcrabs’ offense tried to respond, but Mainland’s defense forced Seabreeze to punt the ball away with 8:44 left in regulation.
Facing a fourth-and-10 with 3:03 to play, the Buccaneers’ Asia Hubbert turned a hook-and-ladder play into a critical first down inside Seabreeze’s own 20. And on third-and-goal, Wilson perfectly lofted the ball into the left corner of the end zone to Dixon for the game-tying touchdown.
Mainland’s sideline erupted. Dixon jumped up and down in excitement.
“I could hardly breathe,” she said. “I had to catch my breath.”
Buccaneers center A'Mya Daversa caught the extra point conversion that gave Mainland the 14-13 lead with 1:19 to play.
Seabreeze started inside its own 20, but thanks to a pair of big runs by McQuarrie, the Sandcrabs were inside Mainland’s 20 about 25 seconds later.
First down. From the Buccaneers’ 19, McQuarrie rocketed a ball toward the right corner of the end zone toward a receiver. The pass was almost intercepted.
Second down. McQuarrie launched another pass into the end zone — this time, too far. The ball sailed over the head of center Alex Nelson.
Third down. McQuarrie had her eyes dead-set on her favorite receiver, Haas. The defender was beat, the ball was thrown perfectly, the touchdown was evident — the ball was dropped.
Fourth down. The Buccaneers had been chasing McQuarrie in the backfield the entire game to no avail. She was too fast, her moves too quick, to be caught. Mainland’s Avari Albright-Walker spent much of the second half on the sideline due to injury after banging her right knee in the third quarter. But for the last two defensive plays, she was on the field. When the ball was snapped, she charged straight at the quarterback. McQuarrie tried to juke right, juke left, but she was trapped. Albright-Walker pulled her flag for a sack with 24.3 seconds left in regulation.
Wilson took a knee to run out the clock, and the Buccaneers sent the Sandcrabs home with their second loss of the season — and on Seabreeze’s senior night.
Mainland coach Scott Wilson had nothing but praise for Seabreeze after the game.
“They’re a really great football team. I love their quarterback, Bailey. She’s got the heart of a lion, and I love watching her play football — just not when we play against her,” he joked. “But we overcame a lot of adversity, and our defense stood tall in the end against a really good offense.”
With the postseason nearing, the Buccaneers now have the No. 1 seed in 1A-District 9.
After the game, Alexa Wilson, Albright-Walker and Dixon were asked if they fully expect to see Seabreeze once against for a rematch in the district championship, where the Buccaneers lost 18-7 a year ago.
All three responded with a resounding “Yes!”
“And this time, we’ll be ready,” Albright-Walker said.