OAKLEAF - Oakleaf High back-up running back Isaiah “Shevy” Shevchook ran for 175 yards and three touchdowns as host Oakleaf roared back from a 16-point deficit to defeat Miami Carol City 40-30 in …
OAKLEAF - Oakleaf High back-up running back Isaiah “Shevy” Shevchook ran for 175 yards and three touchdowns as host Oakleaf roared back from a 16-point deficit to defeat Miami Carol City 40-30 in a non-district game on Friday, September 3.
Without starting running back Devin Outlaw, who was injured in the Knights’ season-opening win over Orange Park, senior Mike Brannon started in the Knights’ backfield alongside quarterback Drew Ammon. When Brannon went down in the first quarter with an apparent leg injury, Oakleaf head coach Frank Garis called Shevchook’s number. Again. And again. And again. Playing with a torn labrum himself, Shevchook carried the ball 36 times, most of them bullish forays into the interior of the line.
Shevchook scored on a one yard plunge to trim the Carol City lead to 13-7 at the end of the first quarter. He, along with the rest of the Knights. Came alive in the second half, when the muscular 5”10, 205-pounder gained 111 yards on 20 rushes and scored two touchdowns.
“Isaiah ran his tail off tonight,” said Garis. “He can’t even lift his arm above his shoulder, but he does not care about pain or fatigue. He just likes to play.”
Oakleaf scored the final 26 points of the game. The Knights wore the Chiefs down with a hurry-up, no-huddle offense that ran 76 plays on the night. The furious pace was part of their game plan.
“That was the plan: to go faster on offense, make them play as many plays as we can,” said Garis. “We try to make fatigue a factor.”
The Chiefs had Oakleaf reeling in the first half. Carol City quarterback Dominiq Ponder picked apart the Knights secondary, completing 10 of 14 throws for 167 yards and two touchdowns before intermission. Only a 92-yard kickoff return by Oakleaf’s Rae Murray kept the Knights within striking distance, allowing the Knights to head into halftime behind only 23-14.
Things continued to bleak for the hosts when Carol City opened the second half with a seven-play, 65 yard drive that was capped by Lemmie Faulk, Jr.’s third touchdown of the game, a four yard run off right tackle that put the Chiefs in front 30-14. It was the final time they would score.
The Knights responded with a 77 yard drive. Facing a fourth and seven from the 22 yard line, Ammon found Taylor Bradshaw open on a deep slant route for a touchdown. A two-point conversion attempt failed when Shevchook was tackled for loss.
Shevchook brought Oakleaf within 30-27 with 35 seconds remaining in the third quarter with his second one yard touchdown run. He was hit in the backfield by Chiefs end Nathaniel Gibson, but spun out of Gibson’s grasp and kept his balance long enough to extend the ball over the goal line.
In the fourth quarter, the Oakleaf defense made three big plays to help complete the comeback. First, linebacker Vlad Rosa knifed in and tackled Ponder for a loss on a third down at midfield. Defensive back Jaedon Stokes sniffed out a fake punt attempt on the next play, tackling Chiefs upback Heaven Brown five yards short of the first down marker and giving possession to Oakleaf’s offense.
It took only two plays after the Chiefs’ failed fake punt for the Knights to grab their first lead. Starting at midfield, Ammon completed a pass to Bradshaw for 14 yards. On the next play, ArMon Cooper took in a short pass, faked out his defender, received a downfield block from Murray and cruised into the end zone. Corey Washington could not handle a low snap, and thus was tackled behind the line before Ammon could put a foot into the ball. Thus, Oakleaf’s lead was just 33-30 with 3:57 remaining.
Carol City reached midfield on the ensuing possession, but Oakleaf freshman cornerback Drake Stubs intercepted a Ponder pass and returned the ball 38 yards to the Chiefs’ 17 yard line. On the next play, Shevchook took a handoff up the middle, kept his legs churning as the Chiefs grabbed at the ball, and rumbled all the way into the end zone for the final margin.
“At our practices, we just run, run, run,” said Shevchook. “Plus, I am a wrestler, so we are always running around.”
Garis, who served as a pallbearer at the funeral of his wife’s sister’s mother-in-law earlier in the day, was proud of his young Knights, who start four freshmen on defense and came into 2021 with only one player with starting experience on either side of the ball.
“It was a great early test,” Garis said. “They [the Chiefs] have some great athletes and are going to be in the [Class] 4A playoffs.”
Garis was especially pleased that his young team did not panic despite the big deficit.
“At halftime, I told them that the scoreboard was lying to them,” he said. “It did not indicate how the game was going.”
Bradshaw led Oakleaf receivers with five catches for 68 yards, including one of Ammon’s two touchdown passes. Linebacker Prince Savea had three and a half tackles for loss for the Knights, who ran their record to 2-0 for the first time since 2014.
Oakleaf hosts Lake City Columbia in their next game on Friday, September 11.