Late score lifts Olympia past Cypress Creek for 1st win | Observer Preps

A late touchdown pass helped the Titans score a 38-36 victory in their district opener.

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  • | 1:00 a.m. September 15, 2018
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The Olympia High defense found success in the fourth quarter stopping Cypress Creek’s wing-T attack, and that afforded the Titans offense just enough time to score a dramatic game-clinching touchdown.

Garrett Velin’s 53-yard touchdown pass to Donrick Means came with 2:01 remaining Friday and helped rally host Olympia to a 38-36 homecoming victory in the Class 8A, District 5 opener for both schools. It not only marked the Titans’ first win of the 2018 regular season, but it also represented Travis Gabriel’s initial triumph as Olympia’s new head coach.

Gabriel admitted that his young team would gain an important confidence boost from a win – regardless of what that win may have looked like. The Titans, who unofficially overcame a total of 22 penalties against Cypress Creek (1-3), had been outscored 154-50 in their opening three contests and face an upcoming three-game road swing that kicks off next Friday (Sept. 21) at Wekiva High.

“We’ll take a win any way we can,” Gabriel said. “These kids deserved it. They fought hard, they played hard and we shot ourselves in the foot with a lot of penalties, but they played hard and that’s all I can ask. … It was a sloppy game, but an ugly win beats a pretty loss any day.”

The victory for the Titans was the first under head coach Travis Gabriel.
The victory for the Titans was the first under head coach Travis Gabriel.

Olympia trailed Cypress Creek 36-24 with 3:10 left in the third after the Bears’ Tyler Jacks broke off a long scoring run and Stevenson Sinophat added a 2-point conversion. The Titans’ previous possession had lasted 6 minutes, 37 seconds, but ended in a turnover on downs at the Bears’ 15-yard line.

Cypress Creek’s three fourth-quarter possessions resulted in a pair of punts, as well as a turnover on downs at its 35-yard line with 60 seconds remaining. Olympia closed off the Bears’ inside rushing game and successfully pressured quarterback John Mariani, whose 86-yard strike to Tavion Harley during the opening minute of the second half was one of three TD passes for Mariani on the night.

In a bit of foreshadowing, Velin connected with Means on 30-yard touchdown pass that brought the Titans with 36-30. Colby Kintner added the extra point with 39 seconds to go in the third quarter, setting the stage for an exciting final 12 minutes.

Olympia’s spread offense found itself 91 yards from the end zone with 6:04 left. Means ran three times for 31 yards and Velin added an 8-yard carry that moved the ball to the Cypress Creek 48, but Velin subsequently missed two plays due to leg cramps. Velin, still hobbled by the leg cramping, returned and two plays later he scrambled to his left and found Means deep along the sideline behind a Bears defender.

Garrett Velin swings a pass out to Taelson Jean.
Garrett Velin swings a pass out to Taelson Jean.

“That was an improv play and Garrett just made a great throw and Donrick made a great catch,” Gabriel said. “We wanted something else on the backside [of the formation], but he didn’t throw it and then he found Donrick.”

Olympia took a 10-0 lead in the first quarter. Taelson Jean ran 59 yards for a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage – Cypress Creek attempted an onside kick to start the game, but Donavan Hicks recovered for the Titans – and Kintner converted a 34-yard field goal at the 4:26 mark after a penalty wiped out Jean’s 65-yard TD reception on the same drive.

The Bears responded with 22 unanswered points. Jacks scored on a 40-yard run and Mariani threw a 2-point pass to Samuel Peralta-Guzman to make it 22-10 with 4:16 left before halftime. However, Jean reversed his field and went sideline-to-sideline for a 68-yard touchdown run on the next play from scrimmage and Velin had a 4-yard TD run with 1:12 left - after Darrian Hawkins recovered Olympia’s ensuing onside kick - as the Titans carried a 24-22 advantage into halftime.


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