Every Wednesday, the St. Thomas Aquinas offense practices its two-minute drill, visualizing any situation that might arise in a game.
On Saturday, down by 3 with a little more than six minutes remaining in the game, Plantation junior running back Damian Levy fumbled, and the Raiders drove 76 yards on eight plays.
Senior running back Fred Coppet’s 8-yard touchdown run with 3 minutes, 55 seconds left gave St. Thomas Aquinas a 24-20 lead that stood at Brian Piccolo Stadium during homecoming weekend.
With the victory, St. Thomas Aquinas (6-2, 4-0) can clinch the District 15-7A title — its first since 2010 — if Cooper City loses on Monday or by beating the Cowboys next weekend.
Saturday’s game was originally scheduled for Friday night, but was changed because of Hurricane Sandy.
“This is big after the heartbreaker with Miramar — even though it wasn’t a district game — [and] Don Bosco game even though it wasn’t a state game,” said head coach Rocco Casullo, whose team has won three in a row since the Miramar loss. “It was time for something good to happen for us. They kept playing hard and they deserved it.”
Winds of 24 miles per hour wreaked havoc on both teams’ kicking games throughout the afternoon. After a 1-yard punt, the Raiders put together an 11-play drive that ended in senior John O’Korn 23-yard screen pass to Coppet for the touchdown with 2 minutes, 9 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
Plantation junior quarterback Chris Lammons’ 5-yard bootleg on fourth-and-3 capped a 13-play drive for the Colonels (6-2, 3-1). All 80 yards came on the ground. But senior De’Yonte Davis’ extra-point sailed wide left.
Coppet answered back with an 80-yard touchdown run on the first play of the next drive, giving Aquinas a 14-6 advantage. He rushed for 220 yards on 23 carries with two touchdowns. He also caught four passes for 33 yards and another score.
The Colonels rebounded, tying the game at 14 with 6:06 remaining in the half on senior running back Antonio Williams’ 23-yard rush. Senior running back Javonte Ham converted the two points, but battled cramps and only carried the ball once in the second half.
St. Thomas Aquinas opened the third quarter with an 11-play drive that stalled. Senior Alex Knight’s 29-yard field goal put Aquinas back on top 17-14.
The Colonels went back to the ground game with Levy and Williams. After consecutive goal-line stops, Levy ran it in, but the extra point missed, making it 20-17 Plantation. Its offense came into the game averaging 49.7 points.
After both teams traded interceptions, Levy picked up a first down on third-and-5 with a just more than six minutes left in the game. His rush for 15 yards to the Aquinas 25 ended in a costly fumble. From there, the Raiders benefited from a dropped interception and a personal-foul penalty on its game-winning drive.
“It was a big game because that team right there lost one game and every team they were blowing out,” Coppet said. “Our defense held up and our offense put up points. That last drive, we just had to get in the end zone and make something happen. We did what we had to do.”
• Cypress Bay 35, Everglades 7: The Lightning had a five-touchdown halftime lead and cruised the rest of the way using reserve players in the second half to clinch a playoff spot in its District 12-8A matchup during Senior Night.
Cypress Bay, which defeated West Broward by the same score last week, will travel to Western (2-1 in district play) on Friday for the right to clinch home field in the first round of regionals.
Matt Dayes led Cypress Bay (6-2, 4-0) with 115 rushing yards on 15 carries and three touchdowns. The defense allowed only 37 total yards against the Gators (3-6, 0-4) in the first half on its way to a 35-0 halftime lead.
Cypress Bay, on the other hand, gained 277 total yards through two quarters with Dayes already scoring on runs of 3, 8, and 23 yards. It was his second consecutive game scoring three rushing touchdowns.
Quarterback Jarranta Lewis went 5 of 7 passing for 87 yards, including a 33-yard touchdown throw to Blake Worbington before sitting out the second half. Josh Kaiser (64 yards on six carries) accounted for the other score on a 13-yard run.
For the second consecutive game, the Lightning had a 21-0 lead after one quarter, scoring on three of their first four possessions on three Dayes rushing touchdowns. The non-scoring possession ended in a missed field goal attempt from 36 yards.
The Gators avoided the shutout with Sigure Williams scoring on a 6-yard run late in the fourth quarter.
• Stranahan 13, Pembroke Pines Charter 3: Stranahan’s strong rushing attack ran roughshod over Pembroke Pines Charter’s defense on Saturday night, paving the way for a district win.
The Dragons (2-7, 1-2) dominated the time of possession and had a pair of 100-yard rushers in Darrian Burrows and Braxton Davis. Davis put the game away with a 25-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter.
The Jaguars (1-7, 0-3) were unable to capitalize on any of Stranahan’s four turnovers, including two fumbles deep inside Dragon territory.
• Taravella 54, Piper 0: Taravella quarterback Lorenzo Jerome combined for 223 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns as the host Trojans defeated district opponent Piper at Coral Glades High School.
Taravella (6-2, 3-1 District 11-8A) jumped out to an early 14-point lead after the first quarter via a 10-yard touchdown pass from Jerome to Davory Mckoy and a 10-yard touchdown run by running back Jawanza Evans-Morris.
Jerome capped off the first half with a 68-yard touchdown run down the sideline to give the Trojans a 31-0 lead at the break.
Late in the first half, Evans-Morris left the game with a knee injury and did not return.
Piper (3-5, 1-3 District 11-8A) struggled on offense; the Bengals did not complete a pass in the game. Running back Travis Liburd led the Bengals with 50 rushing yards.