As soon as the scoreboard hit 0.0, Foundation Academy football players and coaches rushed to each other in a frenzied celebration.
After years of losing to The First Academy, the Lions (5-1) finally broke the streak and beat the Royals 21-14 Friday, Sept. 27 — claiming their first ever victory over TFA (1-5) on the football field.
“It means more to the school than the program,” said Lions Head Coach Brad Lord. “We’ve been in dogfights with them before… when we first started playing them they blew us out, but we’ve lost some tight ones with them and then tonight we came on the upend.”
Things didn’t start off smoothly, however, for the Lions as quarterback Henry Austad was picked off by safety Jalen Middleton at the 27-yard line.
The Royals would make the Lions pay for the mistake, as senior Lake Ellis exploded for a 73-yard touchdown down the left side of the field on the first play of the game for TFA. The PAT would put the Royals up 7-0 less than three minutes into the game.
While the Lions’ offense had issues early on, they’d be set up deep in Royals’ territory thanks to a fumble on a bad snap at TFA’s own 16-yard line with less than five minutes to go in the first quarter.
A few plays later and Austad would find pay dirt on a short, one-yard touchdown run, before the PAT tied the game up at 7-7. Austad would run for two touchdowns and 64 yards on 13 carries, while tossing for 201 yards on 14-of-19 passing.
In the second quarter Foundation would pull away a bit thanks to a 15-yard touchdown run by Dharius Seth Daniels with 8:18 left in the half, before Austad dived toward the pylon with 16.8 seconds to go — picking up his second rushing touchdown on the night — to make it 21-7 going into the break.
The second half would be a story of defense and blunders for both teams.
On the defensive side of the ball the Lions saw tons of production from sophomore Bryan Thomas (11 total tackles, one sack and two hurries) and freshman Edward Byrd (10 tackles). Stutsman and Michael Lemieux-Bott added nine and eight tackles of their own.
Toward the end of a scoreless third quarter, TFA would drive down the field on the Lions’ defense, before being stuffed on 3rd-and-1 at the Lions’ one-yard line. Down 14 and being as close as you can be to the end zone, the Royals decided to go for it on fourth down — fumbling the ball away at the Lions’ 5-yard line.
The Royals would get the last score of the game when a long run by Middleton set up a 5-yard touchdown run by senior running back Michael McFayden with 5:52 left in the game. The PAT to make it 21-14 would be the last of the night’s scoring.
Foundation would bleed out the rest of the clock — thanks in part to a 40-yard toss from Austad to Matt Puchalski — and finish off the game in victory formation.
“They’re a hard team to play — they run that Wing-T like butter and I knew it was going to be a tough game,” Lord said. “But our kids toughened up and played well. We made some mistakes, but we’ll learn from them.”
The Lions will return to action Friday, Oct. 4, as they travel to Windermere Prep (1-4) for a 4:30 p.m. start, while the Royals will have the week off to recover.