University squanders 14-point lead in loss
University was unable to hold on to a two-touchdown second-half lead as the Sharks fell to Cocoa 32-31 in the teams’ Class 4A state semifinal contest late Friday night.
“Sometimes that’s the way football is,” said University head coach Daniel Luque. “It’s a great game. It makes men. It builds character and we’re going to use this motivation for next year.”
It appeared early in the second half as though the Sharks might make their third trip to the state championship game after scoring two touchdowns in 27 seconds.
The first score came courtesy of a
28-yard touchdown reception by McIntosh from Nick Vattiato that gave the Sharks a 24-17 lead. Cocoa then subsequently fumbled the kickoff and on their first play of the next drive, Christian Wells scored on a 31-yard touchdown reception from Vattiato that helped put the Sharks up 31-17.
But Cocoa was able to work their way back into the contest. They drew to within a score on a 29-yard scamper by quarterback D.J. Arroyo with
3:56 left in the third quarter. After they fumbled near the goal line, Cocoa was able to regroup and tallied two points when Vattiato was tackled in the end zone early in the fourth quarter.
The Tigers took the lead for good in when Jamari Williams caught an
18-yard touchdown pass from Arroyo with 3:17 to go on third-and-goal.
“The safety, it ended up coming back to bite us in the butt by one point,” Luque said.
The Sharks unable to respond as McIntosh lost a fumble on their first play from scrimmage on the ensuing drive. The Sharks had one final chance after getting the ball back in their territory with a little more than a half-minute to go but were unable to get into field goal range.
University started what was a seesaw first-half strong as a 1-yard plunge by McIntosh gave the Sharks a 6-0 lead. The Tigers responded however, with D.J. Arroyo finding Caziah Holmes on a 16-yard touchdown to put the Tigers in front 7-6 early in the second quarter and they added to their lead by way of a 26-yard-field goal by Alex Petruzzello later in the half to go up 10-6.
But University was able to retake the lead at the start of a wild sequence to end the first half, with an incredible one-handed catch by Sharks wide receiver Christian Wells on a
23-yard pitch-and-catch giving the Sharks a 13-10 lead.
Cocoa responded with just about a half-minute left in the first half though as Willie Gaines’ 28-yard touchdown reception put Cocoa up
17-13. A late 26-yard field goal by John Cannon trimmed the Tiger lead to one point at the half.
McIntosh, a commit to the University of the Georgia, finished with
155 total yards and two touchdowns in his final game with the Sharks.
“Kenny McIntosh has been amazing. He was the Broward County Offensive Player of the Year for the SunSentinel,” Luque added. “He’s really going to be missed. He’s U-School’s all-time leading rusher and not only a great kid but a great family but I wish him great things at Georgia.
Cocoa advances to Thursday’s Class 4A state championship game, where they’ll meet Jacksonville Raines, the defending state champions in the classification.
— CHRIS BONANNO Miami Columbus receiver Xzavier Henderson is tackled in the open field by Deerfield Beach CB Keyon Martin during the second half.
Columbus outclasses Deerfield Beach in 8A
Columbus running back Henry Parrish carried 25 times for 177 yards and three touchdowns as the Explorers capitalized on three turnovers and costly penalties to pull out a 49-21 win over host Deerfield Beach in the Class 8A state semifinal late Friday night.
Parrish’s final score, a game-sealing 61-yard run with 2:08 remaining in the game sent Columbus to the state championship game on Dec. 8 at Camping World Stadium in Orlando where they will play Mandarin, a
45-31 winner over Sarasota Riverview.
Deerfield Beach proved to be a gracious host in the first half with seven penalties and two turnovers as Miami Columbus turned that into a 28-7 lead and the Bucks were unable to recover.
Columbus’ Brandon McDuffey threw two touchdowns, while Parrish ran for one score and Elias Morales returned a Derohn King interception 42 yards for a touchdown to give the Explorers (14-0) the early advantage. King’s second pick-6, a
20-yard return by Kalani Norris with
5:52 iced the game at 42-21.
“We fought,” said Deerfield Beach coach Jevon Glenn. “What people have to understand is we have a young team and we have to learn from this as we carry this into the offseason. I am proud of my team and my seniors that gave everything they have for four years.
“We did everything you can not do when you are trying to win a ball game,” said Glenn, whose team was penalized 16 times for 93 yards and had four costly dropped passes, including two sure touchdowns. The Bucks also had a TD whistled back on a penalty.
Columbus hit double digits for the
24th straight playoff game and scored on their first three possessions of the game.
“I mean just the miscues, the lack of focus,” Glenn lamented, “I don’t want to take anything away from Columbus, they capitalized on our miscues and our letdowns. A lot of them weren’t given away, they were forced. They are a helluva football team and I am hoping they go up there, represent South Florida and bring that title back.”
Deerfield Beach (12-2) saw its sixgame winning streak come to an end with the loss. The other setback was a
38-6 loss to St. Thomas Aquinas. King finished 14 of 34 for 193 yards passing and three interceptions while running back Jaylan Knighton, who entered the game with 2,045 yards rushing and 28 scores, was held to just 44 yards rushing. It equaled his season low which came against Aquinas.
Deerfield fell to 1-7 in state semifinal games with the defeat. The lone win came in 2005 when they reached the state final and lost to Palm Beach Gardens, 49-29 at Dolphin Stadium, now known as Hard Rock Stadium.
Miami Columbus running back Nicholas Maza is tackled by Deerfield Beach safety Tyron Herring on Friday.