Berean Christian School played the first round of the SSAC playoffs against Seffner Christian School on Thursday, Oct. 30, narrowly losing a hard-fought battle. Berean had previously earned the Gulf Atlantic Division championship and home field advantage.
Seffner took an early 7-0 lead, but Berean would answer back swiftly. Quarterback Chris Mauck, on two back-to-back series, hit Daniel Pinkerman for two touchdown passes. Daryk Racine then hit a 26-yard field goal to put the Bulldogs up 17-7. Seffner drove late in the second and hit a quick screen pass to make it 17-13.
With 1:54 to go in the half, Mauck took control and connected on multiple passes, taking the Bulldogs to the 15-yard line. On fourth and goal, and 15 seconds on the clock, Berean went for it, and Mauck hit Racine on a quick slant for the score. The half ended with the Bulldogs up 24-13.
However, the second half would not be as good for the Bulldogs. Seffner came out and dominated the third quarter with a running game. Keeping Berean’s offense on the sidelines for the majority of the quarter, Seffner put up two scores to make it 27-24 by the start of the fourth quarter. On fourth down deep in their own territory, disaster struck the Bulldogs. Berean snapped the ball over the punter’s head, and Seffner took control at the 4-yard line. Two plays later, Seffner took a 33-24 lead.
Berean did not fold and mounted a super comeback effort. Mauck took the offense down the field and put another touchdown on the board with four minutes to play, hitting Racine deep in the right corner of the end zone to make the score 33-31. The defense dug deep, causing a fumble.
The Bulldogs took control on the 25-yard line with 1:56 left on the clock. Mauck’s passing game got them to the 50-yard line for a first and 10 with a minute to play. The Bulldogs were now 20 yards from Racine’s field goal range. However, on the next two plays, holding penalties put them in a long, first and 30 situation.
On fourth and 18, Mauck threw a 28-yard bullet down the middle, hitting his receiver with what looked to be a first down. Unfortunately, Seffner’s free safety made a great hit from behind just as the receiver caught the ball, jarring the ball loose. The Bulldogs’ comeback had ended, and Seffner finished with a 33-31 win.
The SSAC playoff system plays out the top 8 teams to completion. Berean was set to be back for the second round against Community School of Naples on Thursday, Nov. 6 at Wellington High School. The top 8 teams will play in Orlando on Saturday, Nov. 15.