Ashley had its chances Monday night to claim its first win of the season.
The Screaming Eagles rallied from a 21-point deficit, but White Oak came up with a key fumble recovery in the final minutes that led to Amir Shomari's clinching touchdown on a 23-yard run with 31.8 seconds left as Ashley fell 35-25 in a nonconference game.
"We played hard," Ashley coach Mike Propst said. "We got better."
Ashley fell to 0-4 while White Oak is 3-1 under first-year coach Jeff Cobb, who was disqualified late in the third quarter after two unsportsmanlike penalties – one after an official ran into an assistant coach on the sideline and the second after Cobb argued a call in a game that saw the Vikings whistled for 22 penalties for 210 yards.
Ashley was called for 10 penalties for 87 yards.
Down 21-0 with 4:22 left in the opening half, the Screaming Eagles started their comeback with a 75-yard kickoff return by Stefan Russell after White Oak's third touchdown and went up 22-21 on a 28-yard field goal by Seth Kujawski with 1:59 left in the third quarter.
While the offense was finding a way to score, the defense was slowing the Vikings double-wing option attack that rushed for 126 yards in the first quarter.
"Just getting after it a little more," Propst said. "That's exactly what happened."
But White Oak answered, going up 28-22 on a 57-yard run by Bobby Smith on the Vikings' ensuing possession.
After the teams traded turnovers, Ashley closed to 28-25 on a 30-yard field goal by Kujawski with 6:48 left in the game.
After forcing a three-and-out, Ashley had it first-and-10 at its 37 with 4:33 left. But White Oak linebacker Germaine Colter recovered a botched handoff on the Screaming Eagles' first play.
"That took the air out of us," Propst said. "We had three timeouts at the time and we felt like we were moving the ball. So we felt like we had plenty of time to at least get down in field goal range to tie. Unfortunately, we fumbled. This whole year's been that way."
Vikings quarterback Elijah Harris picked up 8 yards on fourth-and-6 at the Ashley 20 and then Shomari scored on third-and-21 to seal the win.
Ashley's Justin Foy rushed for 142 yards on 26 carries.
"They did a lot of things to help us on their side of the ball," Propst said. "It was a game of field position and where you were located. We had better field position most of the second half and when we didn't they scored and went ahead. In the first half it was much the same way."
– Rick Scoppe
Jacksonville Daily News