The Leap Of Faith

Oviedo football overcomes Timber Creek thanks to late-game heroics


Olivia Bastone

Junior Michael Lopez leaps over his defender to catch the game-winning touchdown against Timber Creek on Aug. 26 at the John Courier Field.


Third and fifteen, down 19-14 with two minutes to play, 30 yards away from victory. This was the last chance the Lions would have to upset Timber Creek High School, the last chance to start the season with a victory. Sophomore quarterback Morgan Mitchell took the snap, evaded a sack, rolled right, and threw up a prayer.

Mitchell’s prayer was answered. Junior Michael Lopez leaped over his Timber Creek defender to snag victory from defeat, to catch the game winning touchdown, to guide his Lions to an incredible upset. After the 20-19 triumph, Lopez was still in shock.

“It was crazy,” Lopez said. “I just caught the ball and I fell. It was God, honestly. He put me in that situation, he put the ball in my hand, and I pulled it down.”

Even though their night would end in defeat, the Wolves started the game with a bang, capping off a 72-yard opening drive with a rushing touchdown by senior Jackson Saffold to take a 7-0 lead.

On Oviedo’s first drive, Mitchell struck back, throwing a beautiful pass to connect with senior wideout Toby Alexander. That set up a four-yard touchdown run where sophomore running back Jake Harris carried three defenders with him into the endzone, tying the game at 7-7.

On Timber Creek’s next drive, disaster struck. They were running the ball relentlessly, looking as if they would score, until Saffold was hit low and fell hard, grasping his knee in agony. He would not return to the game, stalling their drive, forcing a missed 50-yard field goal.

It was mainly luck. I feel if I had given up on the pass, then I would’ve been done.”

— Wideout Toby Alexander

After trading punts, Oviedo had their first small miracle of the game. In the second quarter, Mitchell slightly underthrew his receiver, but off an lucky deflection by a Timber Creek defensive back, Alexander corralled the pass for a 60-yard touchdown. He refused to give up on the play, and was rewarded.

“It was mainly luck,” Alexander said. “I feel if I had given up on the pass, then I would’ve been done.”

The miracles soon balanced out. Two plays later, Timber Creek scored an 80-yard touchdown pass on their own tip drill, with senior wideout MJ Jarrell hauling in the score. After failing a two point conversion, they trailed 14-13.

As the game turned into a battle of punters, the score remained the same until early in the fourth quarter when a gutsy fourth-down conversion attempt turned into an 18-yard rushing touchdown for Timber Creek’s sophomore quarterback Peter Hayes-Patrick. The Wolves had taken a 19-14 lead.

The teams traded punts once again before Mitchell made what looked to be the game sealing mistake. With about three minutes on the clock, he threw into double coverage and was punished. Timber Creek intercepted the pass, and if they could get a first down, they would win the game.

That never happened. Timber Creek punted, Lopez made the play of his life, and Oviedo took a 20-19 lead with two minutes to go.

Timber Creek, fighting to survive, converted on a key fourth down in the Lions’ territory, but it wasn’t enough. Timber Creek threw a jump ball to the front corner of the endzone, the same play that stole the lead from them, and lost the jump again. On an underthrown pass, senior defensive back Nick Sala snagged the game-sealing interception, and four plays later, the clock hit zero.

The entire team, Lopez included, let their emotions show in the traditional singing of the alma mater and in the celebration after.

“[This win] means everything,” Lopez said. “Everybody underestimated us, saying Timber Creek was going to come in here and win…and we came out with the W.”