Miami Beach had prime position in District 16-7A slip out if its grasp — literally.
The Hi-Tides, down by five points, faced a fourth-and-6 at the American 30-yard line on their final drive. Quarterback Jose Fernandez mishandled the snap, Patriot defensive end Donte Stevens landed on it, and the Patriots held on 18-13 Saturday night at Milander Park.
American (3-2, 1-0) now leads the district after defeating the team expected to compete with it for the district crown.
Miami Beach (3-3, 0-1), which is now on a three-game losing streak after starting 3-0, scored a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter to cut an 18-0 American lead down to five. First Jose Fernandez, off a reverse, threw a pass deep to Woodley Bercy, then Alonzo Foster broke a 33-yard run to make the game interesting.
“A lot of these kids are young and they’re learning as we go, but unfortunately something like that had to happen for them to understand that they have to keep playing for four quarters,” American coach Corey Bell said.
The fumble on the final play served as a fitting microcosm of the night for Miami Beach, which fumbled eight times — losing five of them.
The turnovers set up short field for the Patriot touchdowns.
“We had some breaks,” Bell said. “They put the ball on the ground, and we got field position.
“We were able to take advantage of it.”
The Patriots showered their coach with Gatorade after the win — a gesture Bell did not appreciate.
• Late Friday – Ransom Everglades 14, Marathon 0: Eduardo Garcia-Montes had two touchdown passes to lead the Raiders (2-4). His first went to Noah Russin for 15 yards and the second to Max Van Walleghem on a 65-yard pass. Royce Rose had 12 tackles for the Raiders’ defense.
• Late Friday – Pembroke Pines Somerset Academy 42, Archbishop Carroll 39: Deion Pierre scored the game-winning touchdown on a 10-yard run. Pierre finished with 23 carries for 152 yards. Eric Pierre had two interceptions, including one he returned 90 yards to the Carroll 6-yard line to set up a score.
• Late Friday – West Palm Beach Berean Christian 40, Palmer Trinity 0: The Falcons gave up 359 total yards.
The Belen cross-country team won another major meet Saturday by capturing Pre-State Invitational that was hosted by Florida State University at Apalachee Regional Park in Tallahassee.
The Wolverines, who are ranked No. 1 regardless of class by the Florida Athletic Coaches Association, were led again by senior Avery Lopez, who finished in fifth place with a time of 15:43 on the 5K cross-country specific course (which is also the site of the NCAA’s regional cross-country race). Belen finished with 100 points followed by Georgia powerhouse Norcross (159 points) and Melbourne Holy Trinity and Orlando Colonial, which tied for third at 170. Columbus finished eighth, and Sunset finished ninth.
St. Thomas Aquinas d. Evangelical Christian 25-23, 20-25, 25-16, 24-26, 15-12: Mackenzie Zielinski 57 assists, 12 digs, kill, block, 6 aces. STA 13-3.