Oak Hall and Foundation Academy coaches talk to players
Oak Hall head coach RJ Fuhr (left) and Foundation Academy head coach Brad Lord (right) address players after regional semifinal game on Nov. 15.

Oak Hall comeback effort falls short against Foundation Academy

Friday night’s regional semifinal matchup in Winter Garden between the Foundation Academy Lions and Oak Hall resulted in heartbreak for the Eagles. Oak Hall fell, 21-14.

The Eagles’ attempt at an upset came up just shy. Oak Hall head coach RJ Fuhr applauded his team’s resilience.

“We hung in there and they just kept fighting,” Fuhr said. “That’s just a testament to the kids and how hard they work.”

Hope seemed lost for Oak Hall after falling behind 21-0. The Foundation Academy dominated the Eagles the entire first half. 

“We came out and we punched in the mouth,” said freshman Braden Holcomb. “We’ve had our bye week for two weeks. We’ve been ready to play.”

Junior wide receiver Danny Stutsman led the Lions offensively. Stutsman rushed for 127 yards and scored the eventual game-winning touchdown.

“Once we got control of the game, we wanted to give him the ball,” Lord said. “Danny’s an unbelievable player. That’s why he’s got six FBS offers.”

With only 12 seconds left in the first half, sophomore quarterback Cole Gonzales threw to junior Andrew Pickens for a touchdown. A spark appeared.

The momentum continued in the second half. Pickens scored his second touchdown of the night to cut the Foundation Academy lead to seven.

“He’s had a huge year,” Fuhr said. “He’s a prototypical Oak Hall kid. Three-sport star and undersized kid but just makes plays.”

It was too little, too late for the Eagles. Foundation Academy maintained its one score lead with some help from two key turnovers and several fourth-down stops throughout the game.  

“Our defense played awesome tonight,” said Foundation Academy head coach Brad Lord. “They made big play after big play against a good throwing team.”

Lions move on, Eagles eliminated

Foundation Academy (9-2) advances to play Victory Christian (9-1) for the Class 2A, Region 2 championship in Lakeland on Nov. 22. Key junior lineman Scotty West returns for the Lions next week.

“We didn’t show everything today,” Lord said. “We have some stuff that we’ve been working on. I expect us to play a little harder next week.”

Oak Hall finishes the season with an 8-4 record. Fuhr has high expectations for the future of his program.

“I know this was a bad taste in your mouth,” Fuhr said. “Just remember this taste when we’re in the weight room because we’ve got to get bigger and stronger. I think the future’s bright for Oak Hall football.”

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