Lake Nona's Tucker Israel throws a pass against East River during a 40-35 victory.

Lake Nona's Tucker Israel throws a pass against East River during a 40-35 victory. (Reinhold Matay, Special to the Orlando Sentinel / November 8, 2013)

This one was supposed to be for the record books.

With Lake Nona (7-2), the No. 13 team in the Sentinel Super 16, headed for the playoffs and the season coming to an end for East River (1-8), the Lions wanted to get a big lead and rest their starters. The Falcons didn't follow the script, though

Lake Nona did come out with a 40-35 victory on senior night, but it was anything but easy.

East River trailed as much as 27-3 with 5:55 remaining in the second quarter but got brilliant play from junior quarterback Tanner Hearn in the second half, throwing for three touchdowns and running for a fourth and giving East River a momentary 35-34 lead late in the game.

But the Lions came back on the next drive with quarterback Tucker Israel scoring on an 8-yard run on an option play with 2:36 remaining.

Still, East River didn't give up.

It wasn't until defensive back Mehdi Elattrach intercepted a Hearn pass at the 7-yard line that Lake Nona secured the victory.

"This team doesn't give up," Hearn said. "This is something our seniors can look back on and be proud of and it is something that can get us started for next season."

Israel, a junior, threw for four touchdowns — all in the first half — giving him 102 in his career and moving into fifth place on the state's all-time career touchdown passing list. He climbed past former Ocala Trinity Catholic and Florida quarterback John Brantley, who had 99, and former Gainesville Oak Hall quarterback Will Indianos, who had 100.

Senior Ryan Sousa moved into a tie with Tampa Catholic's Darrell Jackson, who spent nine years in the NFL, for third on the state's all-time touchdown reception list. With 11:16 left in the second quarter, Sousa took a short pass over the middle, sidestepped a defender and completed a 37-yard touchdown play. The pass gave Sousa 50 touchdown receptions in his career.

"I feel like we came out a little flat in the second half offensively, and as the quarterback, that is on me," Israel said. "You have to give them a lot of credit with the way they played in the second half, but I think our offensive tempo slowed down and we lost focus a little bit."

Israel had an impressive night, completing 15-of-28 passes for 309 yards and four touchdowns. In addition to throwing to Sousa, he also had two to Deondre Farrier (9 and 42 yards) and the other to Elattrach (34 yards).

The Lions scored in the first half on three of their first five possessions and had their first drive of the game end at East River's 15.

jrwilliams@tribune.com or 352-742-5921.

 

 

Lake Nona 40, East River 35

FIRST — LN: Farrier 9 pass from Israel (kick failed);LN: Farrier 42 pass from Israel (Bonilla kick); ER: FG Lacey 37. SECOND — LN: Souza 37 pass from Israel (Bonilla kick);LN: Elattrach 34 pass from Israel (Bonilla kick); ER: Castillo 32 pass from Hearn (kick failed) THIRD — ER: Hearn 3 run (run failed); LN: Blanc 40 run (Bonilla kick). FOURTH — ER: Dexter 10 pass from Hearn (Lacy kick); ER: Castillo 46 pass from Hearn (Lacy kick); ER: Castillo 12 pass from Hearn (run failed); LN: Israel 8 run (pass failed).