Ida Baker's football team knew it was now or never going into Friday night's District 6A-11 game with South Fort Myers. The Bulldogs' only hope to make the playoffs was to beat the Wolfpack and get some help from Bishop Verot in its game with Fort Myers.
The Bulldogs didn't get it done in their own behalf from the opening kickoff.
Freshman Antwan Dixon ran back the kick 90 yards for the crushing touchdown and senior tailback Sammy Joseph rushed 19 times for 213 yards and three scores as South Fort Myers pulled away in the second half for a 27-7 victory.
"It wasn't a good way to get the momentum. They blocked well and we never got into the alleys," Bulldogs coach Brian Conn said.
The win clinched a playoff spot for the Wolfpack (6-3, 5-1 district), who seemed at times like they wanted to give the Bulldogs every chance to get back in the game.
Instead, the Bulldogs (5-4, 3-3) will have the chance to salvage a winning season next week in the season finale against Mariner.
After the opening kickoff, the Bulldogs went three-and-out. South went on a 13-play drive, highlighted by a 32-yard run by Joseph and a Justin Johnson interception was called back for interference. Joseph darted the final four yards to make it 14-0 late in the first quarter.
Joseph's fumble was recovered by Tyler Iverson to bring Baker back into it. The Bulldogs embarked on an eight-minute, 13-play drive that ended with a four-yard TD run by Brian Johnson which cut the lead to 14-7.
The Wolfpack threatened at the end of the half, but poor clock management and a spike by quarterback Andrew Dailidonis on fourth down left the score 14-7 at halftime.
Baker went on a long drive to start the second half, and Trayvon Clarke's punt pinned the Wolfpack inside their own 5, but Joseph's 77-yard run led to his second score, a one-yard plunge, late in the third quarter to make it 21-7.
"We got our heavy personnel on and we didn't stretch out and gave up our field position," Conn said.
Quarterback Reece Attwood tried to bring the Bulldogs back, but the Wolfpack defense sacked him four times and limited the Bulldogs to 135 yards of offense, 56 on the ground.
In the closing minute, Joseph put the cherry on top with a 51-yard scoring run to make it 27-7.
"We got down 21-7 and had to change things up. We just had too many negative plays on offense," Conn said.
Ida Baker 0 7 0 0 7
South FM 14 0 7 6 27
SFM - Antwan Dixon 90 kickoff return (Conner Kammerlocker kick)
SFM - Joseph 4 run (Kammerlocker kick)
IB - Brian Johnson 3 run (Dylan Miller kick)
SFM - Joseph 1 run (Kammerlocker kick)
SFM - Joseph 51 run (kick failed)