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Defense keeps North undefeated
October 7, 2017

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When it seemed the North Fort Myers High School football team was on the ropes and perhaps on the verge of its first defeat, it was the defense that came to the rescue.

The Red Knights intercepted three passes in the fourth quarter, two for touchdowns, as North Fort Myers rallied for a 27-12 victory over Dunbar Friday at Tiger Stadium.

Fa'Najae Gotay scored three touchdowns -- one defensively, and had two interceptions, and Hunter Kobylanski made a dramatic fumble recovery at the one-yard line to snuff out a drive after the Red Knights took the lead on Gotay's second score of the evening.

After the game, Gotay, who was almost too exhausted to talk, said his team made a statement.

"Everyone was saying we can't get it done south of the river. We knew Dunbar was going to come out strong," Gotay said.

Dunbar (3-2) held a 10-7 lead going into the fourth quarter, but North Fort Myers drove 75 yards on eight plays, aided by two Dunbar penalties, with Gotay going in from five yards out to give North a 14-10 lead.

Dunbar responded with a 13-play, 64-yard drive that went to the North 1 before Dunbar quarterback Zacharie Georges fumbled the snap. Kobylanski recovered to give North the ball.

North quarterback Toby Noland fumbled the ensuing snap resulting in a safety, and Dunbar drove down to the North 25 before Georges was picked off by Gotay, who sprinted 75 yards for a touchdown and a 21-12 North lead.

"I watched film and I knew that what route was coming, so I played the ball," Gotay said. "Koby made a big play on that fumble and it gave us all the momentum."

After that, Dunbar imploded. Gotay picked off another pass on the ensuing Dunbar possession, and Luke Smith, who made some great plays on offense for the Red Knights, got a pick six in the closing seconds to seal the win.

North (5-0) got off to a quick start with a 10-play, 91-yard drive. Gotay ran it in from the five to give North a 7-0 lead.

Dunbar soon got momentum, stopping North deep in Tiger territory before going on a game-tying touchdown drive, with Georges finding Deven Thompkins on a 25-yard scoring connection.

Dunbar took the 10-7 lead in the second quarter on a Xavier McDonald field goal, and had an opportunity to extend the lead, but a second field goal attempt was blocked.

George was 18 for 37 for 203 yards and a touchdown with the three fourth-quarter interceptions, while Thompkins caught nine passes for 115 yards for Dunbar. Brandon Benjamin rushed for 56 yards on six carries, while Keanu Young had 55 yards on 13 carries.

Toby Noland threw for 130 yards on 7 for 13 passing.

North Fort Myers -- 7 0 0 20 - 27

Dunbar -- 7 3 0 2 - 12

First quarter

NFM - Fa'Najae Gotay, 5- yard run (Ethan Bennett kick), 8:24.

DUN - Deven Thompkins, 25-yard pass from Zacharies Georges (Xavier McDonald kick), :26.

Second quarter

DUN - McDonald, 38-yard field goal, 9:18.

Fourth quarter

NFM - Gotay, 5-yard run (Bennett kick), 10:25.

DUN - Safety, fumble in end zone, 5:12.

NFM - Gotay, 75-yard interception return (Bennett kick), 2:57.

NFM - Luke Smith, 55-yard interception return (kick fail), :36.

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