Nathaniel Hudson, Jr.’s lone goal since becoming the coach at South Dade this season was to make his players believe they could restore the school’s proud football tradition.
After six weeks, not only is South Dade back among the contenders, it is at the top of its district.
Despite surrendering 21 unanswered points in the middle two quarters, South Dade rallied from a touchdown deficit in the second half to beat Killian 23-21 on Saturday night at Harris Field.
The victory put South Dade (5-1, 2-0) in sole possession of first place in District 16-8A ahead of the previously unbeaten Cougars (4-1, 1-1). The Bucs went 5-5 last season, but went 1-3 in district, slipping to fourth place after back-to-back seasons of advancing to the regional finals.
“We knew going in it was going to be an emotional game,” Hudson said. “The key was perseverance and confidence. We did a great job.”
Willie Cortes’ 1-yard touchdown run with a little more than five minutes left gave South Dade the lead for good. Killian had two chances to answer but fell short on the first drive after a holding penalty and an unsportsmanlike conduct foul on the same play put them in a 1st-and-35 situation it could not overcome. Killian committed 11 penalties for 115 yards.
The final drive ended 35 yards short of the end zone when David Felipe’s desperation heave landed incomplete.
Trailing 21-14 midway through the third quarter, Killian appeared to have all of the momentum after Matthew Colominas sacked Bryant Stewart, who was injured on the play and had to leave the game.
But South Dade faked a punt and Devontay Keaton picked up 47 yards and a first down leading to a Julian Garcia 20-yard field goal that cut the deficit to 21-17.
Backup quarterback Darryl Tillmen filled in effectively for the Bucs, driving them toward the go-ahead score in the fourth quarter with a key 36-yard pass to Keaton on third-and-14.
“We’ve been through games like this before and we practice comeback situations, so we’re used to it,” Hudson said.
South Dade took an early 14-0 lead on back-to-back touchdown passes by Stewart. The first was to C.J. Worton for 15 yards and the second went to Terry Edwards for 21 yards.
Killian prevented South Dade from taking a 21-0 lead when Bruce Davis intercepted a Stewart pass at the goal line and alertly tossed the ball back to Jaquan Johnson, who raced 100 yards for a touchdown. Johnson later helped tie the game on a 30-yard touchdown pass from Felipe, who would later give Killian the lead on a 4-yard keeper.
“This is big because we expect to be in this position, but from the time I got here the kids have responded to every single challenge,” Hudson said. “They knew this game was going to be tough because Killian has a great team. But tonight is our night.”
• North Miami 21, Hialeah 2: Saturday’s game between North Miami and Hialeah proved that a team’s record doesn’t always hold weight as host North Miami (2-3, 1-0) captured its first district win of the season
The Pioneers jumped to a 14-0 lead midway through the first quarter on two big plays — a 49-yard run by running back Roman Charles and a 60-yard touchdown reception from quarterback James Volcy to Charles.
Pioneers coach Ed Williams said that the coaching staff expects a lot out of Charles every week. Charles finished the game with 139 yards rushing, 68 yards receiving and two touchdowns.
“I ride him hard, and I expect big things out of him,” Williams said.
“Even though he had a great game it was more of a team effort that helped us get this division win and show people that the doormat of a team perception that people have is not us."
North Miami’s defense recorded five sacks, one interception and held the Thoroughbreds (3-2, 0-1) offense to 64 yards passing.
• Columbus 63, Coral Park 6: Columbus relied on its running game to rout Coral Park (1-5) at Tropical Park.
Columbus running back Daryl Chestnut led all rushers with 81 yards and three rushing touchdowns. Fellow tailback Oshton Armstrong complemented Chestnut with 50 yards and two rushing scores of his own. Lorenzo Woodley III added 39 yards and one score, and Jesus Wilson scored on both sides of the ball with a 14-yard run and a 41-yard fumble return.
The Explorers did not punt and are now 4-2 overall and 2-0 against District 8A opponents. They have outscored their district foes 112-6 so far this season.
Coral Park’s Jon Bown ended the shutout with a 47-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.
• Westminster Christian 28, Champagnat 6: Westminster Christian (3-3, 1-1 District 8-3A) amassed 333 yards rushing to put away Champagnat (1-4, 1-1) in a homecoming win.
Tim Irvin led the Warriors with two touchdowns —- one on a 45-yard punt return and another on the ground as part of his 163 rushing yards on 17 carries. Jordan Cronkite pitched in 107 rushing yards of his own.
Danny Suarez’s four sacks highlighted a Westminster Christian defense that only surrendered 115 yards of total offense.
• Solid Rock Christian 30, Summit Christian 28: Solid Rock Christian (3-3) held off Summit Christian (1-3) at Southridge High School.
Following the 34-0 shutout of Berean Christian last week, Summit Christian was hungry for another big win. Because of this, they were overly aggressive and it hurt them in the first half. Attempting to move the ball quickly cost Solid Rock driving opportunities as turned the football over with two interceptions, a lost fumble and a muffed punt keeping Summit Christian in the game.
Nevertheless, Solid Rock Christian kept fighting . Led by Quarterback Jordan Fiore, he propelled Solid Rock to a victory throwing for three touchdowns and 159 yards.
D’JOUMBAREY A. MOREAU
• Mater Academy 21, Keys Gate Charter 0: Mater Academy held Keys Gate Charter to minus-39 yards rushing in a shutout win at Harris Field.
Mater Academy (4-2) scored on second-half runs of 17 yards by Joseph Barrocas and 1 yard by Octavio Garcia. The Lions also cashed in on Brian Guerra’s seven-yard touchdown pass to Steven Rodriguez with 31 seconds left in the first half.
Guerra was 5 of 7 for 69 yards and one touchdown. Keys Gate quarterback Zach Ward threw for 78 yards — completing 11 of 20 passes with one interception.
The Lions held the Knights to 40 yards in total offense.
Mater Academy kicker Gustavo Ramon was 3 for 3 in extra-point attempts, but missed a pair of field -goal attempts in a game where the tempo increased as it wore on.
Keys Gate receiver Josh Passmore had five receptions.