Okeechobee Brahmans out duel Glades Day Gators

BELLE GLADE — The Okeechobee Brahmans outscored the Glades Day Gators 48-40 on Oct. 24. The two teams put on an offensive showcase for those who made the trip out on the rainy night in Belle Glade.

Behind that offensive explosion were two of the best players on each team, Okeechobee’s Veyon Washington and Glades Day’s AJ McPhee.

Lake Okeechobee News/Richard Marion
The Glades Day offense comes to the sideline as the rain pours during the second quarter of their game against Okeechobee.

Heading into the game the comparisons between the two players were unavoidable. Both are in their senior season and both play in multiple key positions on their team such as quarterback, wide receiver and defensive back. Both Washington and McPhee have shown an ability to move the ball on offense, through the air and on the ground and both are previous Big Lake Athlete of the Week winners.

The Brahmans and Gators traded touchdowns on each of their opening possessions, with Washington and McPhee both running the ball in for a score.

On their second drive, the Brahmans were forced into a fourth down after McPhee tripped up Washington behind the line of scrimmage. Sensing the ensuing offensive battle, Okeechobee coach Ty Smith made the call for the Brahmans to go for it on fourth down.

Freshman Michael Burgarelli picked up the first down and moved the ball into Gators territory. McPhee delivered a big hit to bring Burgarelli down just after the first down marker.

Lake Okeechobee News/Richard Marion
Glades Day senior AJ McPhee checks his playcall wristband. McPhee played well against Okeechobee and stood toe-to-toe with Veyon Washington in the game on Oct. 24.

A few plays later Washington found the endzone on a 15-yard run to put the Brahmans up 14-7 in the second quarter.

Penalties marred Glades Day’s next possession, forcing them into their first punt of the game. Okeechobee wasted no time taking advantage, with Washington adding another touchdown on a 60-yard run. The Brahmans missed the extra point, but took the 20-7 lead.

Glades Day responded with a long drive on offense that ended with a McPhee touchdown dive to bring the score to 20-14. But the Gators defense would need to hold the Brahman offense if Glades Day had any hopes of keeping up the quick scoring Washington.

A stop would have been enough. But the Gators defense got a turnover.

After a bad snap, Glades Day senior Lorenzo Powe scooped up the ball and returned it for a 55-yard touchdown. Following the extra point Glades Day had its first lead of the game at 21-20.

Okeechobee responded with a touchdown of their own, this time through the air. Washington hit fellow senior Matthew Beard for a 30-yard touchdown to put the Brahmans back up 27-20.

The Brahmans defense forced a punt as the second quarter neared its end. With only a few seconds remaining one would almost expect the Brahmans to take a knee and go into halftime with the one-score lead. But that’s not what happened

As a chilly downpour of autumn rain came into Belle Glade, Washington ripped off a 72-yard touchdown as the first half expired.

One two-point conversion later and the Brahmans were up 35-21 heading into halftime.

But Washington wasn’t done yet.

On the Brahmans first drive of the second half, Veyon broke free for a 68-yard touchdown to bring the score to 42-22.

Most teams would’ve folded with the kind of game Washington was having that night. But you have to credit Glades Day for sticking with things and fighting back to make it a game.

McPhee answered with a 50-yard touchdown pass, then Brahman senior Lindsey Major punched the ball in on a one-yard run to score Okeechobee’s last touchdown of the game to bring the score to 48-28.

In the fourth quarter, Glades Day attempted to mount their comeback.

McPhee added another touchdown on a 5-yard run. Then Glades Day sophomore Dylan Wilkins came down with an interception on the Gators own 38-yard line. A few plays later, McPhee threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to make the score 48-40 with less than three minutes remaining in the game.

Needing a turnover with time running out, the Glades Day defense punched the ball out from Brahman running back Burgarelli and recovered the fumble at the Okeechobee 48-yard line.
McPhee and the Glades Day offense had shown the ability to score at will, so it was going to be up to the Okeechobee defense to make a play to slow down the Gators and send the Brahmans off with a win.

Okeechobee junior Tydale Lubin pulled that off, tripping up McPhee for a loss as he attempted to take off out of the backfield. Next play, McPhee had to throw the ball away after quick pressure from the Brahman line. Officials called McPhee for intentional grounding, which pushed the Gators back into a fourth-and-21.

McPhee’s next pass would fall incomplete and the Brahman offense came out in victory formation to end the game.

Next Okeechobee travels to face the Clewiston Tigers at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 1 while the Glades Day Gators host St. John Paul II Academy at 7 p.m. on Nov. 1.

Richard Marion is a staff writer and photographer at Lake Okeechobee News and can be reached at rmarion@newszap.com.

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