Coach Ricky Henry warned his young Colts that this game would test their discipline as well as their competitive spirit.
Rhea Central would not let the prophetic words go to waste starting the game with a six-play, 65-yard drive ending when RC running back Matthew Meeks went in for a 31-yard touchdown. The 2-point conversion failed and with 4:35 showing, the Colts trailed early 6-0.
The Colts answered with their own six-play drive that ended with Avery “A-train” Jones rolling to a 56-yard touchdown. The 2-point conversion failed and with :28 seconds remaining in the first quarter the teams were knotted at 6 each.
Rhea Central returned the kick 28 yards but sputtered as the Colts’ defense kept the Rhea offense in check, forcing a turnover on downs.
Ocoee took control of the ball and the clock taking a 13-play drive all the way up the field. Key runs by Jones and a needle-threading pass from QB Tyler Carpenter to Josh Jones for 10 yards kept the drive alive. Kyler Lynn took the last handoff of the first half for Ocoee over the goal line from five yards out. After a failed 2-point conversion, the Colts took a 12-6 lead into halftime.
Rhea Central’s very first play of the second half ended on a Tyler Carpenter interception at the 32-yard line. The Colts’ defender turned quarterback handed off to Lynn for a 4-yard gain. On the next play Carpenter shot through the middle of the defense on a QB keeper for a quick 28-yard strike. Once again, the 2-point conversion failed and the Colts led 18-6 with 1:19 left in the third quarter.
With a fired up Colts defense chomping at the bit, Rhea Central fumbled on its next offensive possession. The ball was picked up by OMS defensive back Brice Gibson. The Colts’ offense ran nine plays covering 40 yards capped by a tough 1-yard plunge by Carpenter to pick up his second score of the night. The conversion was no good and with 3:20 showing in the fourth quarter, OMS led the home team 24-6.
Rhea Central took care of the ball on their third and final possession of the second half by giving it to Meeks, who knew what to do. Meeks rambled 55 yards for the touchdown. RC tacked on the 2-point conversion and cut the Ocoee lead to 24-14 with only 2:54 remaining in the game.
Ocoee was able to keep the ball on the ground running out the clock and leaving with a 24-14 win.
Rhea Central ran 14 team plays for 126 yards and two scores supplied by running back Matthew Meeks. Ocoee’s offense controlled the ball and the clock with 42 plays and 278 total yards. Jones led the attack with 20 carries for 149 yards and one score. Lynn added 14 for 77 yards and a score. Carpenter carried four times for 32 yards and two scores and was 2-of-2 passing for 16 yards.
Coach Henry said he was relieved after the game
“Excited. That’s how I feel right now. We’re leaving here 3-0 and just played one heck of a team. The Colts team that showed up was the one we needed. Jones, Carpenter and Lynn played well for us tonight on offense but Gabe Flowers set the tone on defense. He played really well tonight,” Henry said.
On the play of Rhea Central, Henry said, “Meeks is a great athlete. He showed a lot of heart by how he carried himself tonight but let me tell you, that defensive lineman of theirs, Nick Mullins, he was a beast. He led them on defense and made sure everyone knew their assignment,” said the OPMS coach. “We were just a step quicker to the outside at times. Our offensive line stepped up to the challenge, especially late in the game. We were disciplined and I’m just really proud of this team right now.”
The 3-0 Colts will play host to Bagley on Sept. 7 at Charleston Field. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.