ORLANDO, Fla - Two teams claimed state titles Friday in the Class 1A and 1B football championships, and eight more earned spots in next week's championship games.
Among the biggest surprises Friday was Manatee's 28-20 win against St. Thomas Aquinas in the Class 5A state semifinals and Miramar's 21-14 win against Miami Central in the 6A state semfinals.
Miramar will face DeLand next Saturday for the 6A state championship, and Manatee battles Plant for the 5A state title. Glades Day and American Heritage, meanwhile, settled their business Friday with victories at the Citrus Bowl. Full details on those games follow.
Class 1B State Championship
Glades Day 27, South Daytona Warner Christian 20
Glades Day celebrated its sixth football state championship, including its second in the past four years, Friday during a wild game at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando.
The Gators overcame a pair of shocking fourth-quarter trick plays to defeat South Daytona Warner Christian in overtime.
Glades Day sealed its fate when running back Kelvin Taylor scored his fourth touchdown of the game on a short run, and J.T. Thornton intercepted Warner quarterback Shelton Willis near the goalline on the Eagles’ possession.
South Daytona Warner Christian, which finished as the Class 1B state runner-up for the second straight year, certainly gave Glades Day (12-2) all it could handle.
With the Eagles offense struggling, Warner Coach Andy Price turned to trickery to regain the lead. Warner took a 13-12 lead with 9:34 to play in the fourth quarter when Willis connected with Sharod Williams on a 22-yard touchdown pass.
The play developed when Price sent only 10 players into the huddle. When the 11th player rushed onto the field, Williams left the huddle early and trotted toward the sideline as if he was being replaced.
Williams, though, had no plans to leave the game. He stopped a few feet sort of the sideline, turned upfield on the snap, caught Willis’s pass at the 14-yard line and sprinted into the end zone with no Gators’ defenders in sight.
Glades Day answered with a 65-yard drive that featured heavy doses of Taylor, the son of New England Patriots running back Fred Taylor. He capped the 11-play drive with a 1-yard touchdown plunge with 3:39 to play to put the Gators ahead 20-13.
On Warner’s ensuing possession, Glades Day’s defense continued to dominate.
The Gators forced a fourth-and-13 from Warner’s own 33-yard line, and it appeared to be a bridesmaid season again for the Eagles.
Price, though, had one more trick up his sleeve.
This time, it was the hook-and-ladder. Willis threw to the right side to Green, who was a few yards short of the first-down marker. Williams, though, followed the play and took the lateral at Warner’s 40-yard line and raced down the sideline for the touchdown on a 61-yard run.
Warner’s extra-point tied it 20-20 with 2:01 to play, and the game went to overtime when the Glades Day drive stalled near midfield.
In overtime, the Gators relied on their workhorse. Taylor, who finished with 213 yards rushing and four touchdowns on 42 carries, carried three times, scoring on a 3-yard run. Warner, which led 7-0 on a 61-yard second-quarter run by Breon Allen, wilted under the Gators’ defensive pressure on its overtime possession. Williams juggled the pitch on first down and was taken down for a 10-yard loss. Then Thorton intercepted Willis.
Aside from Allen’s long run, Warner only had 26 rushing yards.The Eagles relied heavily on Willis, who finished with 202 passing yards on 10-of-24 attempts. Thornton intercepted him twice. Greene caught seven passes for 111 yards for Warner (12-2).
Both teams expect to have their top players back for the 2010 season. Taylor is only a freshman this season. Warner’s Allen and Williams are juniors, and Willis is a sophomore.
Glades Day’s state championship was its sixth. The Gators also won state titles in 19780, 1982, 1986, 1995 and 2006.
Delray Beach American Heritage 30, Jacksonville Trinity Christian 20
Thanks to the legs of running back Darius Millnes, American Heritage is a state champion for the second time in three years.
Quarterback rushes was the story of the game. Millines, who rushed for a pair of first-half touchdowns to give the team a 16-6 halftime edge, rushed 28 times for 179 rushing yards and four scores.
Meanwhile, Trinity quarterback Andrew Buie rushed 20 times for 133 yards and a touchdown and threw for a second score. Trinity running back Ahmad Christian added 143 rushing yards on just four carries.
In total, the Stallions (11-3) rushed for 293 yards. Trinity (13-1) rushed for 282 yards.
American Heritage struck first with a safety with 2:49 to play in the first quarter. After coming up empty on a drive that started at Trinity Christian’s 36-yard line, the Stallions pinned the Conquerors at their own 1-yard line on the punt. On first down, Marvel Taylor took the handoff and was hit almost immediately in the backfield. Harewood Higgs.
With 11:07 to play in the second quarter, Trinity answered. Christian raced around the left end for a 21-yard gain to American Heritage’s 20-yard line. Then Buie connected with Charles Hawkins for a 20-yard touchdown. A failed extra-point attempt kept the Conquerors up 6-2.
American Heritage started the ensuing drive at its own 31 and moved across midfield before Trinity Christian forced a punt. On the punt, though, the ball bounced and touched Christian, and the Stallions recovered at Trinity’s 4. Two plays later, Millines ran 5 yards for the score to make it 9-6. Heritage stretched the lead to 16-6 in the waning seconds of the second quarter when Millines shuffled and darted through the Trinity defense for a 49-yard touchdown run, his second of the game, to cap a nine-play, 98-yard drive.
In the third quarter, Buie sprinted straight up the middle to score on a 34-yard keeper to cut the margin to 16-13. Millines answered with a 22-yard touchdown run with 3:24 to play in the third quarter to make it 23-13. As if on cue, Buie responded with a 38-yard run to move the ball to the A.H. 20-yard line. The Conquerors, though, were flagged for an illegal block, and Banner Clark missed a 45-yard field goal at the start of the fourth quarter. Trinity’s next drive started at its own 1-yard line, and it ended in seconds. Christian busted through the middle of the defensive line and raced for a 99-yard touchdown run to cut the lead to 23-20 with 7:34 to play.
Trinity appeared to earn a chance for the comeback when the Conquerors intercepted Millines with 4:34 to play, but a defensive holding call flipped the play in favor of American Heritage, which earned a first down at Trinity’s 44-yard line. Then a late hit out of bounds after Millines ran for a 7-yard gain moved the Stallions to the 16-yard line. Trinity forced a fourth-and-2 play from the 8-yard line, and Millines ran right for 6 yards to convert the first down. One player later, he shoved into the end zone to make it 30-20 with the extra point.
The win marked the 10th straight after an 0-3 start to the season for American Heritage. Trinity’s loss kept it from claiming a perfect season and its third state title. The Conquerors defeated Fort Meade 17-7 for the 2003 Class 1A state championship and also won it in 2002.
DeLand 20, Apopka 7
DeLand defeated Apopka to earn its first state championship berth. The Bulldogs will play Saturday at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando.
Apopka led 7-0, but the Bulldogs answered to make it 7-6 at the half. DeLand broke through again in the third quarter to make it 12-7 on a 13-yard touchdown run by DeAnte Saunders. The Bulldogs added a safety with 2:19 to play in the fourth quarter to stretch the lead, and running back Shontrelle Johnson scored on the ensuing possession to seal the win.
Miramar 21, Miami Central 14
Miramar defeated Miami Central to earn its first trip to the state championship game. Miramar scored late in the fourth quarter to seal the win. Ryan Williams threw 56 yards to Malcolm Lewis on a possession that began after Central elected to try a fake punt on fourth down near midfield. Miramar led for most of the game, but Central tied it 14-14 midway through the third quarter on Jeffrey Godfrey’s 30-yard touchdown pass to Joshua Reese and a two-point conversion pass to Durell Eskridge. Earlier, Godfrey threw 13 yards to Charles Gaines to mount the comeback after Central fell behind 14-0. Miramar scored first on a 7-yard run by Jeremiah Hicks. Miramar stretched the lead to 14-0 on another Hicks’ touchdown run.
Plant (Tampa) 20, Lakeland 0
Plant shut out Lakeland 20-0 to earn another trip to the Citrus Bowl. James Wilder Jr. ran for a 15-yard score in the first quarter, and Chris Finn added a pair of second-quarter field goals to make it 13-0 at the half. Allen Sampson added a 52-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to seal it.
Manatee 28, St. Thomas Aquinas 20
Manatee pulled off a mammoth upset against St. Thomas Aquinas, which mounted a comeback but lost 28-20. Manatee’s Ace Sanders scored on a run to put Manatee ahead 10-0 in the second quarter. Aquinas answered with a 1-yard touchdown run by James White. Manatee stretched its 10-7 halftime lead to 21-7 with a field goal and a 35-yard interception return by Davian Evans.
Niceville 34, Edwater 20
Dwyer 41, Armwood 15
Pensacola 14, Jefferson 0
Belen Jesuit 21, Pensacola 14
Jesuit earned a state championship game berth with a win as Nic Platt scored a pair of first-half touchdowns to give Belen a 14-7 halftime lead. Lake Wales tied it on Justin Shafer’s 3-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. Miguel Maseda gave Jesuit a cushion with a 5-yard run.