Fort Meade Edges Bartow in Low-Scoring Contest, 12-8
Fri. September 21, 2012 at 10:07 p.m. | By Solange Reyner
Bartow's Dimitri Leverett scrambles to avoid Fort Meade defenders Friday night at Bartow . (Photo by George Aycrigg | News Chief)
By SOLANGE REYNER
BARTOW | With less than 40 seconds left in a non-district match-up against Fort Meade, Bartow quarterback Dimitri Leverett was firing off deep passes from the 41-yard line, trying to find any bit of rhythm to help his team rally from a four-point deficit.
But a baby-faced eighth-grader made a huge defensive play on fourth and 10 with 2.3 seconds left to help Fort Meade wash away Bartow's comeback attempt and win 12-8 Friday night in a rainy affair at Bartow Memorial Field.
Ladarius Clark, who was called up from the junior varsity squad at the beginning of the season because Fort Meade was low on players, picked off Leverett at about the 10-yard line on a pass Leverett threw toward three open receivers.
Clark said he was in the right spot at the right time for the interception.
"I was like, ‘Wow, I couldn't believe I made that play,'" he said. "It makes me feel like I should keep trying harder."
He got lots of help from fellow defensive back Devin McCalebb, who had his own defensive highlights down the stretch. McCalebb made four big defensive plays — the final one when he had good coverage on Bartow's Vontarius West on a play that would have put the Yellow Jackets in scoring range on Bartow's first play of that final series. He also stopped Bartow's two-point conversion attempt with 5:45 left, a run that would have tied the score, and he stopped two players on Bartow's second to last offensive series of the game to force the Yellow Jackets (3-1) to punt.
That punt attempt was bobbled in the end zone and covered up by Bartow's punter to give Fort Meade a safety and the lead for good with 2:56 left in the game.
Fort Meade's De'Vante Clark iced the win with a 39-yard run up the middle on second and long on the ensuing drive, a run that helped him finish with 137 yards on 30 carries for the Miners (4-0).
"Devin has been playing like that all year," Fort Meade coach Jemalle Cornelius said. "We came out with some intensity and he led us. Our offense, though, didn't do a thing."
There was only one offensive touchdown scored all night, and Fort Meade's Chris Morris was the one with it. He caught a 24-yarder from Jay Smith in the first quarter with 5:19 left.
Fort Meade got the rest of its points on a 25-yard field goal by Jack Cortez and the safety in the end.
Bartow's offense was mundane throughout, and the defense scored the lone touchdown when Freddie Stevenson forced a fumble and took it back for a 40-yard touchdown in the fourth. Bartow had negative 14 yards and zero first downs in the first half and failed to capitalize when it did have chances in the red zone in the second half.
The Yellow Jackets were in the red zone twice but missed field goals after the offense couldn't move the ball.
"I think we just came out flat but I think this loss will humble us because I think our team got a little bit of a big head after we started off 3-0," Stevenson said.
Added Bartow coach Brett Biggs: "They should feel bad about this loss because this is something they don't want to feel again."
Bartow travels to Lakeland next Friday and Fort Meade is at Ridge Community.
Fort Meade 7 3 0 2 - 12
Bartow 0 0 8 0 - 8
FM — Chris Morris 24 pass from Jay Smith (Jack Cortez kick), 5:19.
FM — Cortez 25 yard field goal, 4:06.
B — Safety, 6:18
B — Freddie Stevenson 40 fumble return (run failed), 5:45
F — Safety, 2:56
FM | B
First downs 13 4
Rushes/Yards 50-159 18-18
Passing 6-10-0 4-18-1
Passing Yards 57 52
Total Yards 216 70
Fumbles/Lost 2-1 2-1
Punts/avg. 4-42.5 3-45.6
Penalties/Yards 10-107 10-85
Records 4-0 3-1
Rushing: FM - De'Vante Clark, 30-137; B - Michael Walker, 8-21.
Passing: FM - Jay Smith, 6-10-0; B - Dimitri Leverett 4-52-1.
Receiving: FM - Malik Brown 3-23; B - Jeramy Williams 2-43.