As the sun dipped below the horizon, the LED lights of Eagle Stadium flickered on, and the Nest slowly came to life. Buzzing with excitement and anticipation, thousands of fans clothed in pink ensembles to honor Breast Cancer Awareness Month, flooded the stadium’s stands eager to watch the Eagles take on Pine Forest High School.
The game started on a high note for Niceville, with Uriah West scoring the first touchdown. Confetti and cheers exploded from the student section to celebrate.
Soon after, Niceville blocked a punt by Pine Forest, which resulted in a touchdown by DJ Robinson, giving the home team a 14-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The 2nd quarter saw a scoring drought form both teams, but did
harbor a high-energy sense of school spirit and support from fans.
The referee whistled the end of the first half and the teams headed into their locker rooms. The Ruckel Middle School and the Lewis School bands joined the Eagle Pride in one beautiful performance displaying the talent boasted by students in the Niceville-Valparaiso area.
Pine Forest rallied after what we can only assume was a fantastic halftime speech from Pine Forest’s First-Year Head Coach, Tony Carter.
Pine Forest’s Miequele Brock scored his team’s first touchdown of the night. In typical Eagle fashion, Niceville returned with a touchdown by DJ Robinson, giving the home team a comfortable lead of 21-6 as they headed into the game’s final quarter.
The fourth quarter brought an unexpected turn for the worse for Niceville. Pine Forest came back swinging, racking up three touchdowns and two two-point conversions in the game’s final minutes.
Niceville only scored a single touchdown in the final quarter – leaving the teams tied at 28 points.
With only two minutes left, it was a fourth down on Pine Forest’s 22-yard line. The referee’s whistle sounded, signaling a timeout for Niceville. Moments later, kicker Logan Marise and the rest of the Eagle’s kicking team took the field and set up for a field goal attempt.
The tension in the Nest was practically palpable as nearly every fan went silent in anticipation for the game’s decisive kick.
Calm and collected, Marise readied himself for the biggest kick of his career so far. After the game, Marise told Mid Bay News he “trusted [his] snapper and holder to get the ball down, and was confident in [himself] to make the kick.”
The center snapped the ball and the game’s final place was in motion.
Marise’s foot made contact with the ball. The crowd roared, confetti exploded, and the band played as the football cleared directly between the two yellow posts and the referees threw their hands in the air to confirm what the student section, raucuously celebrating, already knew – the kick was good.
The student section began chanting “We Love Logan” as he hustled back to the sideline after locking in a 31-28 win for Niceville High.
Not a bad day to be the kicker.
Next week, the Eagles have their first bye week of the season in preparation for a big homecoming game against Tallahassee’s Leon High School on October 20th.