For a brief moment, it appeared Flagler Palm Coast was going to win its first playoff game under third-year head coach Travis Roland.
Trailing Apopka 21-19 with 1 minute, 38 seconds left in the third quarter, Bulldogs quarterback Preston Roberts dropped back to pass. He lofted a ball deep down the middle of the field, and it was caught by receiver Ty Graham, who out ran two defensive backs on his way to a 76-yard touchdown.
“I’m proud of this group of kids. It sucks, but we have to move on and pick our heads up.”
TRAVIS ROLAND, Bulldogs coach
What happened in the remainder of that third quarter was, ultimately, a disaster.
The Blue Darters returned the ensuing kickoff into the red zone and scored on a rushing touchdown 16 seconds later.
On the first play of the Bulldogs' next drive, Roberts was strip sacked, and the Blue Darters recovered the fumble. The Blue Darters scored on a 23-yard run two plays later.
And finally, on the Bulldogs' responding drive, Roberts floated a pass over his receiver and it was intercepted. Apopka’s Billy Riley returned the pick 55 yards for a score with 21 seconds left in the third quarter.
The Blue Darters scored 21 points in 1 minute, 17 seconds, vaulting No. 3 seed Apopka to a 42-25 win over No. 6 seed FPC (8-3) in the first round of the Class 8A FHSAA State Playoffs the night of Friday, Nov. 8, on a rain-drenched at Apopka High School. It was the third year in a row the Bulldogs suffered a first round exit.
“We beat ourselves,” said FPC running back Ty Jenkins, who completed a 75-yard touchdown pass to receiver Jonathan Richard on a trick play for the Bulldogs’ first offensive play of the game. “It’s devastating.”
Despite the loss, Roland was proud of what his team has accomplished. In his three years leading the team, the Bulldogs have won a total of 25 games and have been to the playoffs each season.
"We’ve won a lot of football games together," he said. “I’m proud of this group of kids. It sucks, but we have to move on and pick our heads up.”