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Seminole edges Cocoa football in wild overtime battle

Rory Thomas’ 10-yard TD run caps 35-29 victory
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SANFORD, Fla. – Cocoa and Seminole are state powerhouses, and they played as such when they went head-to-head on Friday night.

Rory Thomas’ 10-yard touchdown run on Seminole’s first play of overtime gave the host Seminoles (5-1) a wild 35-29 victory before a big and boisterous crowd. Thomas’ run followed a 26-yard field goal attempt by Cocoa that bounced off the left upright on its first series of overtime.

The two schools have combined for six state titles over the last two decades. Seminole won the Class 8A state title in 2020, and Cocoa finished as Class 4A state runner-up last season.

“It’s surreal,” said Thomas, who broke several tackles on the way to the end zone and was mobbed by teammates and coaches. “It felt great. I was happy to win it for my boys.”

It was Thomas’ third touchdown of the night following a touchdown catch and TD run in the first quarter. He finished with 85 yards rushing and 57 yards receiving.

“Rory’s a big, physical player,” Seminole coach Eric Lodge said. “He’s got good speed. He’s hard to bring down.”

The nail-biting finish came on the heels of a wild fourth quarter that saw the Tigers (2-3) score 15 unanswered points to tie things at 29-29. Blake Boda’s 6-yard TD pass to Jaden Edgecombe with no time left and then two-point pass to Kyon Calhoun forced overtime.

Cocoa’s game-tying score came after the Tigers blocked a 26-yard field goal by Seminole with 2 minutes, 10 seconds left. Boda, a transfer from Daytona Beach Seabreeze, rallied Cocoa time and again. He turned in a stellar performance with 315 yards passing and three TDs.

“This is why you play high school football game, man,” said Cocoa coach Ryan Schneider, whose team’s three losses have come to schools that are expected to make a run for a state championship: Jones, Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas, and Seminole. “You got two great teams going at it in front of a great atmosphere. I’m so proud of our team, man. Some breaks didn’t go our way, but we kept on fighting, kept on scrapping.

“We talk all the time about building our championship habits,” Schneider said. “I saw a lot of habits (Friday night). I’m excited about going to work (Saturday).”

The schools went at it like two heavyweights in the first quarter. There were two lead changes and a tie in the first 12 minutes alone.

Cocoa hushed the home crowd early when Jordan Holmes intercepted Seminole quarterback Luke Rucker and raced 84 yards for a touchdown.

But the Seminoles stormed back by driving 87 yards in 11 plays for a score. Goldie Lawrence, an FSU commit at wide receiver, threw a 4-yard TD pass to Thomas, and then ran in the 2-point conversion for an 8-7 lead.

Cocoa needed only three plays to regain the lead, 14-8, when Boda and star receiver Dayday Farmer connected on a nifty 84-yard, catch-and run.

Seminole countered again when Thomas stormed around left end from 11 yards out, capping a six-play drive. The Noles couldn’t convert the 2-point run, leaving the game tied at 14.

Antonio Simpson then intercepted a Boda pass on Cocoa’s next possession, setting up Seminole’s next score: a 19-yard toss from Rucker to Lawrence.

Seminole, wearing its famed "Bokey" jerseys, gets after Cocoa quarterback Blake Boda.

Seminole, wearing its famed "Bokey" jerseys, gets after Cocoa quarterback Blake Boda.

Cocoa then drove to Seminole’s 5-yard line but came away empty-handed when a 28-yard field goal was blocked.

After the schools exchanged punts, Rucker ripped an 8-yard TD pass to Lawrence, who dove for the ball just inside the right pylon. Lawrence then threw a two-point pass to Thomas to put the Seminoles up 29-14 at halftime.

That score stood up until the fourth quarter when Boda and the Tigers went to work. He threw a 27-yard TD pass to Calhoun with 10:44 left and Cocoa made the PAT to narrow its deficit to eight points, 29-21.

Boda then converted three fourth-down plays on Cocoa’s final scoring drive of the night. He couldn’t find the end zone, however, in overtime and the Tigers fell just short.

“We’re heartbroken, of course,” Boda said. “It was a tough battle. We knew we were capable of winning. We fought hard and games sometimes get this way. But we got to realize what the main goal is: a state championship.”

Six players caught passes for Cocoa. Farmer caught five passes for 123 yards, and Jayvan Boggs had six receptions for 90 yards for the Tigers.

“They’re a great program,” Lodge said of Cocoa. “We made a lot of mistakes in the second half. We had multiple chances to end the game. When you do that against a really good team, they’re going to make a run.”

Rucker turned in another strong performance for Seminole, passing for 234 yards and two TDs. Lawrence ran for 46 yards and caught seven passes for 124 yards.

Seminole visits DeLand, while Cocoa hosts Titusville on Friday, Oct. 14.