A sad re­run

Lake­land (15-0) reprises ’06 ti­tle win over St. Thomas

Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition - - SPORTS - By David Furones [email protected]­sen­tinel.com / @DavidFurones_

OR­LANDO — The last time this hap­pened in a state cham­pi­onship game for St. Thomas Aquinas, it was against the same school.

As fa­mil­iar state foes met again for the first time in a decade, St. Thomas, which has won seven ti­tles fol­low­ing that epic 2006 dou­bleover­time de­feat at the hands of Lake­land, lost in a fi­nal for the first time since.

The Lake­land Dread­naughts, ranked 44th na­tion­ally by MaxPreps, beat er­ror-plagued Aquinas, ranked as high as ninth, 33-20 in the Class 7A ti­tle game at Or­lando’s Camp­ing World Sta­dium on Fri­day night.

For Lake­land, their first cham­pi­onship since that his­toric 45-42 bout 12 years ago puts an ex­cla­ma­tion point on a 15-0 sea­son. Junior run­ning back De­mark­cus Bow­man ran for 211 yards and a touch­down while Ja­harie Martin had two rush­ing scores for the Dread­naughts.

Los­ing two fum­bles, miss­ing a pair of field goals and turn­ing it over on downs on a fourth-quar­ter red-zone try, the Raiders (13-2) missed a chance to tie Jack­sonville Bolles for the state record for to­tal cham­pi­onships (11).

Early in the fourth quar­ter, down 26-14, St. Thomas missed a chance to cut into the deficit, but af­ter a third­down sack set up fourth-and-13 from the 14-yard line, run­ning back Daniel Carter dropped a screen pass.

Martin’s sec­ond touch­down ex­tended the Lake­land lead to three scores. Curt Cas­teel would hit The’An­dris Free­man for a touch­down with un­der two min­utes to play, but it would be too lit­tle, too late as an on­side kick at­tempt was ruled out of bounds as Jor­dan Bat­tle was up against a side­line as he re­cov­ered it.

As Aquinas ini­tially bat­tled back from a 10-0 half­time deficit, the Raiders and Dread­naughts played to a wild back-and-forth to start the sec­ond half.

St. Thomas started with the ball, but Cas­teel fum­bled the ball away. Lake­land wouldn’t re­tain possession for long, though. Don­tae Lu­nan forced a fum­ble on the fol­low­ing play and An­thony Solomon re­cov­ered it. The Raiders turned the sec­ond chance into their first score as Cas­teel re­deemed him­self, scor­ing on a 15-yard run.

Aquinas ap­peared set to build mo­men­tum, but Lake­land’s Fen­ley Gra­ham re­turned the en­su­ing kick­off back 99 yards for a touch­down to put the Dread­naughts back up 10, 17-7. Do­ing the high-five-be­fore­cross­ing-the-goal-line cel­e­bra­tion, Lake­land was pe­nal­ized ahead of the kick­off that fol­lowed.

The Raiders would re­spond again. A 44-yard pass from Cas­teel to Mar­cus Rosemy set up Daniel Carter’s 5-yard touch­down run to pull them back within three at 17-14. Lake­land, af­ter ex­tend­ing the en­su­ing drive with a 68-yard pass on third-and-25, set­tled for a field goal that made it 20-14 af­ter highly-touted tight end

The first half was marred by missed op­por­tu­ni­ties for the Raiders. None greater than when they had the ball at the 1-yard line on third down, were called for false start, got sacked and then missed a 30-yard field goal.

It was one of two missed field goals for Aquinas in the first half, and that one was fol­lowed by an 80-yard touch­down run from De­Mark­cus Bow­man to put Lake­land ahead 7-0 early in the sec­ond quar­ter. Be­fore half­time, the Dread­naughts knocked in a field goal to cap a long drive where they pounded Aquinas with the run­ning game.

Lake­land had a touch­down to Zip­perer wiped away on its sec­ond drive. An il­le­gal for­ma­tion call brought back what would’ve been a 74-yard score on a short pass.

Ear­lier Fri­day, Car­di­nal Gibbons made Broward County 1 for 1 in 2018 state foot­ball ti­tles, top­ping Ci­tra North Marion 48-10 in the Class 5A game. Cham­i­nadeMadonna faces King’s Acad­emy in the Class 3A fi­nal, a 10 a.m. kick­off on Satur­day morn­ing.

MICHAEL LAUGH­LIN/SUN SEN­TINEL PHO­TOS

St. Thomas Aquinas re­ceiver Ja­mal Cooney is tack­led by Lake­land’s Quadir Hall dur­ing their 7A state cham­pi­onship game Fri­day night at Camp­ing World Sta­dium in Or­lando.

St. Thomas Aquinas’ Daniel Carter sprints ahead of sev­eral Lake­land de­fend­ers in the 7A state fi­nal game.

St. Thomas Aquinas coach Ja­son Taylor shouts in­struc­tions to his team dur­ing Fri­day night’s 7A ti­tle game.

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