T.J. Jiles has made many catches in his Cape Coral career, but none more important than the one he had to make Friday night in the Seahawks' regional quarterfinal playoff game against Golden Gate.
Jiles' five-yard, over-the-shoulder catch on fourth-and-goal in overtime tied the game at 27-27. When Johnathan Ramirez kicked his fourth extra-point moments later, bedlam broke out at Dave Warkentin Stadium as the Seahawks advanced with a 28-27 win.
Facing fourth down at the 5 in the Kansas tiebreaker, quarterback Kurt Benkert rolled to his left and found the senior receiver running toward the corner of the end zone with a perfect lob over the cornerback.
"It was amazing. I didn't expect the corner to play me so close. He was too aggressive and that's why the play worked," said Jiles, who caught seven passes for 50 yards and two TDs.
Golden Gate (5-6) got the ball first in overtime and took just three plays to score on Kenny Mouton's six-yard run to make it 27-21. Daniel Rojas missed his second extra point on a windy night to give the Seahawks a ray of hope.
"We came to battle tonight. We had a couple kids who had to step it up tonight," Seahawks coach Brad Metheny said of his physically battered squad. "We learned a lesson from last week. It was a great win for the school."
Cape Coral raised its home record to 6-0 this season, but had to fight off a furious Titans squad that overcame three first-half turnovers to come back twice to tie the game on the strength of Mouton's playmaking (171 yards passing, two TDs, 67 yards rushing) and Breon Brown's running 165 yards on 14 carries, most coming in the second half.
Trailing 14-6 at the half, the Titans drove 73 yards in five plays, with Mouton throwing a 23-yard TD pass to Lewis Drewniak. Rheem Mariano caught the two-point conversion to tie it 14-14 late in the third quarter.
The Seahawks countered with a 12-play, 75-yard drive that ate up more than five minutes. Dustin Thibodeau's 32-yard run helped set up Benkert's 10-yard TD pass to Jiles to go up 21-14.
The Titans responded with a quick score, set up by Brown's 31-yard run and ending with his 15-yard run off left tackle to tie the game again less than two minutes later.
The Seahawks scored first on its very first possession when Benkert (13-of-24, 133 yards) plunged in from one-yard out to take a 7-0 lead.
Golden Gate got on the board in the second quarter when Mouton found Frantz Dorvol on a 12-yard scoring strike and Rojas missed the point-after.
Late in the quarter, Thibodeau, who had a monster night with 134 yards rushing and 76 yards receiving, took the Seahawks on his back for a 13-yard TD run to make it 14-6.
The Seahawks (7-4) will host Immokalee next Friday in the Region 5A-3 semifinals, looking to avenge the blowout defeat they suffered at Immokalee in the regular season.
"Immokalee will be a big challenge. It's a bad matchup for us, but anything can happen. They were in a dogfight tonight," Metheny said.
Jiles is confident the Seahawks, with the game on their home turf, will be a different team.
"I think it will be a different outcome," Jiles said. "They'll be surprised."
Golden Gate 0 6 8 7 6 - 27
Cape Coral 7 7 0 7 7 - 28
CC - Benkert 1 run (Ramirez kick)
GG - Dorvil 12 pass from Mouton (kick fail)
CC - Thibodeau 13 run (Ramirez kick)
GG - Drewniak 23 pass from Mouton (Mariano pass)
CC - Jiles 10 pass from Benkert (Ramirez kick)
GG - Brown 15 run (Rojas kick)
GG - Mouton 6 run (kick fail)
CC - Jiles 5 pass from Benkert (Ramirez kick)