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Red Knights beat Clearwater in playoff opener

November 15, 2017
By CHUCK BALLARO ( , North Fort Myers Neighbor

The North Fort Myers High School football team hadn't played in a postseason game in a decade, but they didn't look the least bit nervous in the first of what could be as many as four home playoff games.

Terry Lindsey rushed for four touchdowns, quarterback Toby Noland threw for 205 yards, and the North defense forced four turnovers, three from Cameron Howitt, as the top-seeded Red Knights cruised to a 37-13 victory over Clearwater on Friday in the first round of the regional playoffs at Moody Field.

North Fort Myers (9-0) will get another crack at Fort Myers, which also won Friday over Palmetto Ridge.

Article Photos

North Fort Myers junior Hunter Kobylanski (3) sacks Clearwater quarterback Colin Wray on a two-point conversion try during Friday night's playoff game. To view more photos from the game, see our Facebook page.


Clearwater's Colin Wray threw for 216 yards and two touchdowns, but also had three interceptions. Still, he did enough to give the North defense fits at times, having never seen the spread offense used to this degree.

"We knew they were a good team. They were very polished. They throw a lot, that's what we saw on film, so we weren't surprised," North coach Earnest Graham said. "It was great to see a team like them at this point."

North Fort Myers got the first big break of the game midway through the first quarter when Howitt recovered a Jarius Williams fumble to give the Red Knights the ball inside the Tornadoes 10. Two plays later, Lindsey pushed it in from the one for a 6-0 lead after the missed extra point.

A shanked punt gave North excellent field position on its next drive. Set up by a 33-yard completion to Clayton Savinsky, Lindsey took it the remaining five yards to increase the lead to 13-0 late in the first quarter.

Clearwater hung tough, as Colin Wray found Brannan Demeter deep to put the Tornadoes on the board at 13-7, then prevented a touchdown by recovering a Fa'Najae Gotay fumble inside their one.

But North asserted control once again, picking off three Wray passes, two by Howitt, setting up an Ethan Bennett field goal, and eventually Lindsey's third touchdown run to make it 23-7 at halftime.

North's running game, which outside of Lindsey was ineffective in the first half, got going after halftime. Hunter Kobylanski and Gotay got more touches, but again it was Lindsey scoring his fourth touchdown for a 30-7 lead.

Semaj James caught a TD pass to get Clearwater closer, but that was it as Noland finally threw a TD pass to Luke Smith for the final score early in the fourth.

Clayton Savinsky caught three passes for 97 yards. Lindsey led North in rushing with 63 yards on 14 carries.

"They changed some stuff up on us, but we came out of halftime, fixed everything and were ready to go," Noland said. "We took it as just another game. We just played. Clayton is my man. His routes are crisp."

Now, it's on to play in the oldest rivalry in Lee County, a game that the entire county is going to want to see.

"We're happy to have that game again. It's going to be a great matchup and it's what the community wants to see, especially with everything at stake," Graham said. "We've worked hard to be in this position and it doesn't get any better."


Clearwater 0 7 6 0 13

North Fort Myers 13 10 7 7 37

First quarter

NFM Terry Lindsey 1 run (kick failed), 5:22.

NFM Lindsey 5 run (Ethan Bennett kick), 3:43.

Second quarter

CL - Brannan Demeter 28 pass from Colin Wray (Devon Ortega kick), 10:59.

NFM Bennett 25 field goal, 4:43.

NFM Lindsey 1 run (Bennett kick), 1:54.

Third quarter

NFM Lindsey 4 run (Bennett kick), 9:43.

CL Semaj James 15 pass from Wray (pass failed), 7:17.

Fourth quarter

NFM Luke Smith 31 pass from Toby Noland (Bennett kick), 10:44.



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