Buchholz season ends with heart-breaking 2OT loss to Niceville

It was an instant classic.

But for the Buchholz football team, it was a heart-breaking defeat.

Hunter Smith’s 24-yard field goal attempt in double overtime just missed by inches to help Niceville (10-0) secure a 38-35 win at Citizen’s Field in a Class 7A-Region 1 Semifinal.

The loss snapped an 8-game winning streak for Buchholz, which finished the season with an 8-2 record.

Niceville’s Charles Labee drilled a 28-yard field goal in the second overtime to advance the Eagles to next Friday’s region final at Fleming Island (Orange Park).

Smith opened the scoring with a 27-yard field goal and a 3-0 lead with 8:08 to play in the opening quarter.

However, Niceville’s Keylon Leno intercepted a pass from Buchholz quarterback Creed Whittemore and returned it to the Bobcats’ 16-yard line. One play later, Shawn Parker ran it in with 5:18 to play in the first quarter for a 7-3 lead.

Following a 23-yard field goal by Smith, Niceville’s Azareye’h Thomas, who has offers from Alabama, Clemson, and LSU, among dozens of other D-I offers, raced 66 yards down the right side line for a 14-6 lead with 7:21 to play in the first half.

Buchholz was able to answer late as Whittemore hooked up with junior Quan Lee (offers from Kentucky, Tennessee, South Carolina) for a 50-yard scoring pass with :12 to play in the second quarter. Whittemore then completed a 2-point pass play to Quan Smith, who received his first offer from the University of Michigan, to tie the game at 14-14 at the half.

Quan Lee scored on a 3-yard jet sweep to give Buchholz a 21-14 lead with 3:18 to play in the third quarter.

However, Niceville answered as Trey Wainwright connected with Dramarian ‘Juice’ McNulty on a 44-yard scoring pass with 1:08 to play the third quarter to tie the game at 21-21.

A 62-yard punt return by Lee gave the Bobcats a first-and-goal at the three, and Smith ran it in from three yards out with 7:23 to play in the fourth quarter for a 28-21 lead.

Buchholz had a chance to put the game away following an interception by Donny Hiebert with 3:26 to play. However, Smith missed a 40-yard field goal a little over a minute later that could have iced the game.

Wainwright hit Thomas in the flat, and the junior showed why he is being highly recruited with an electrifying 43 yard run from one side of the field to the other, tying the game at 28-28 with just :41 to play in the game.

Whittemore hit Terrell Jackson on a 10-yard flip on option play fake to give the Bobcats a 35-28 lead in the first overtime. However, Niceville answered on a one-yard touchdown run by Dom Annichiarico.