Northwestern stuns Central to reach semis
Isiah Velez had time on the clock and a chance for redemption.
His Northwestern Bulls were down by three with under six minutes left in the Region 4-6A final to district rival Central. The season came down to the senior quarterback, who had struggled for most of the game.
Five minutes, thirteen plays, and one touchdown pass later, the Bulls stormed off the field with a 19-15 win at Traz Powell Stadium on Friday night to advance to the state semifinals.
Velez completed 10-of-12 passes for 88 yards on that gamewinning drive, overcoming a 17-yard penalty midway through the series and converting a fourth-and-2 after Velez mistakenly spiked the ball on third down to stop the clock with about a minute left.
The clincher: A 12-yard fade to Romello Brinson in the left corner of the end zone with 37 seconds left in regulation. It was Velez’s second touchdown pass of the second half to his sophomore receiver. The first was a 40-yard catch and run late in the third quarter.
Cardinal Gibbons 35, PlanA tation American Heritage 7: It didn’t matter that very few people gave Cardinal Gibbons a shot on Friday after losing the heart and soul of their team, quarterback Nik Scalzo, to a seasonending knee injury.
Nope, when it was all over, there they were, celebrating wildly with their hysterical fans following a shocking rout of Plantation American Heritage and punching the Chiefs’ ticket to next week’s 5A state semifinal where they will host Tampa Jesuit.
It happened thanks mainly to a remarkable defensive effort. Led by linebacker Trevis Robinson and defensive end Khris Bogle, the Chiefs played shutdown defense all night. Robinson recovered a fumble on Heritage’s first snap and returned it 10 yards for a touchdown. One drive later, cornerback Michael Antoine intercepted a pass and returned it to the Heritage 8, setting up another Gibbons touchdown.
The Chiefs cruised from there.
St. Thomas Aquinas 35,
Dwyer 0: For just a moment, St. Thomas Aquinas appeared vulnerable. The Raiders’ first drive against Dwyer at Brian Piccolo Memorial Stadium lasted only three plays and went backward quickly with a pair of sacks on Curt Casteel.
Not much went wrong the rest of the way for St. Thomas Aquinas. The Raiders responded with another dominant performance for the final 41 minutes of a dominant win.
Junior Marcus Rosemy finished with four catches for 134 yards and two touchdowns. The four catches came on the first four pass attempts of the game for Casteel, who finished 6 of 8 with 159 yards and a touchdown, plus 22 rushing yards.
The shutout was St. Thomas Aquinas’ second in a row and eighth of the season.
Deerfield Beach 21, Palm
Beach Central 6: The theme for Deerfield Beach’s run at a Class 8A state title is becoming clearer with each game: defense and running back Jaylan Knighton.
The combination was again successful as the Bucks defeated Palm Beach Central in a Region 3-8A final at Deerfield Beach High.
Knighton finished the night with 130 yards on 23 carries and two touchdowns. The junior running back and Oklahoma commit now has 2,045 yards and 28 total touchdowns this season. He helped seal the win with 55 yards on six consecutive carries late in the fourth quarter.
Defensively, senior linebacker Brandon Moses was everywhere with a fumble recovery, a 35-yard
interception return and a sack.
University School 45,
Glades Central 14: After spending the past 51 weeks fretting over an opportunity lost, the University School Sharks will get their shot to right a wrong next week.
Following a rout of Belle Glade Glades Central in a Region 4-4A final at their field, University will hit the road next week to take on Cocoa in a 4A state semifinal, the same team and the same field that saw them return home 49-14 losers a year ago.
The opportunity is there because the Sharks (11-1) got quality performances from a host of players.
Sophomore quarterback Nick Vattiato completed 13-of-22 passes for 389 yards and four touchdowns. Two of those scores went to two-way player Christian Wells. who finished with four catches for 139 yards and made key pass breakups at defensive back.
Five-star running back Kenny McIntosh rushed for 155 yards on 15 carries and one score.
The Sharks jumped out to a 14-0 first-quarter lead, led 28-7 at halftime and were never threatened.
Champagnat 21, Moore
Haven 10: A team that doesn’t even have a home field and plays all road games was once again right in its comfort zone on Friday night.
The Champagnat Lions came through against No. 2 seed Naples St. John Neumann, winning in a Region 4-2A final.
With that, the defending 2A state champions have caught their stride at the perfect time and will now travel to St. Petersburg next week to take on Admiral Farragut in a 2A state semifinal.
And no moment was bigger the Lions when, leading 14-10 with less than five minutes to go and facing an fourth-and-3 at their own 30, the head coach made a gutsy call and actually went for it.
Daryn “Duke” Jones responded with 12 yards and a fresh set of downs. Five plays later, quarterback Malik Rutherford took off on a perfectly executed quarterback draw for a 25-yard touchdown with 2:45 left to seal the win.
Delray American Heritage 3: The Chaminade-Madonna Lions are no stranger to victories. On Friday night, they checked off yet another win, defeating the Delray American Heritage Stallions to advance to the Class 3A state semifinals.
The Lions’ defense controlled the game with three blocked passes, one sack by senior defensive end Cameron Williams and two forced fumbles, one of which came on the Stallions’ first play of the game. The Lions’ recovery on that play led to a touchdown just four downs later.
Receiver John Dunmore scored Chaminade’s second touchdown.
Northwestern wide receiver Romello Brinson dives for the goal line and scores a touchdown on a 40-yard catch and run against Central on Friday night at Traz Powell Stadium. Brinson scored two TDs in the win.