Freakish final second fumble return TD keeps team from playoffs

You know the old adage about playing until the final whistle? It's never been more apt than when seen through the prism of this play.

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As first reported by, Winter Springs quarterback Garrett Etheridge scrambled right in an attempt to run out the clock in regulation during Monday's district football tiebreaker between Winter Springs (Fla.) High and Oviedo (Fla.) High. With the job seemingly done and time expired, Etheridge slowed up and stopped while still standing, failing to drop to a knee on the turf.

That was a big mistake.

Practically as soon as Etheridge stopped in the open field, he was slowly surrounded by a convoy of Oviedo defenders who approached slowly as if the play had been whistled dead. However, instead of trotting off the field, Oviedo's Jack Redding raced in and tore the ball from Etheridge's hands, returning it for a 20-yard touchdown with no time remaining on the clock.

"As soon as he rolled out and stopped running, I knew the play wasn't dead," Redding told "I didn't want to run up to him and have him realize what was happening and kneel down. I walked up to him pretty calmly, grabbed the ball and took off.

"He just wanted to do well for his team. It just happened to go bad for him."

Oviedo used the momentum from the shocking last second victory to push past Hagerty in their second game of the three-team district tiebreaker round robin, taking the Class 5A, District 3 crown in the process. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Winter Springs could never shake off the funk of the finish to their first game, falling to Hagerty 15-8 in the third game to officially end the Bears season short of the state playoffs.

"I feel awful for the kid," Oviedo coach Wes Allen told "That's the good thing about high school kids. They can put things behind him and move on."

Etheridge's athletic director said he was confident the school's star quarterback would do just that.

"Garrett's going to be fine,'' Ted Jones, the Winter Springs athletic director told "We don't have a better boy on this campus. His teammates love him. His classmates love him."

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