A word that epitomized Saturday for Miramar running back Eric Pittman as the junior rushed for a game-high 127 yards and two crucial touchdowns as the Patriots clinched the District 12-8A runner-up spot with a 35-16 win over host Flanagan.
It was a “win-and-in” situation, but it was Miramar (6-4, 4-1), which ends the regular season on a three-game winning streak after alternating outcomes through the first seven weeks of the season, who came up with the biggest plays for the victory.
Cypress Bay (7-2, 5-0) had already clinched the district title coming into Week 10 and both the Lightning and Patriots will await the outcome of Monday’s district 11-8A playoff to determine who their first round postseason opponents will be.
Pittman, who faced an unfortunate turn of events during Miramar’s week five tilt against Cypress Bay, stepped up every time Flanagan (6-3, 3-2) cut into the Patriots’ lead — something the Falcons did twice in the second half; coming within five points each time.
Pittman’s 40-yard touchdown run at the end of the third quarter, which extended Miramar’s lead to 21-9, then a 59-yard scamper with 3:35 left to play in the fourth gave the Patriots a 28-16 lead and delivered the game-sealing blow.
After the game Pittman tried to deflect the attention of his performance, giving credit to the team.
“What we did tonight was not just about me,” Pittman said. “The whole team stepped up. Our backs were against the wall and we knew we had to do something tonight or we wouldn’t make into the playoffs. It does feel good to play like this in a big game though.”
Cam Rigby also took it upon himself to do something for the Patriots — finishing with 102 yards and two first half touchdowns on 14 carries.
Receiver Tyler Williams caught a 44-yard touchdown pass from Gerald Hawkins with 2:04 left in the fourth to give Miramar its final lead.
After Miramar, which committed 20 penalties for the second straight game, jumped out to a 14-2 lead by halftime, the Falcons defense opened the third quarter by forcing two straight three and outs, which allowed to their pass-heavy offense to build a drive that was capped off with a 9-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Stanley to Keavon Mitchell midway through the third.
Stanley, a sophomore, completed 37 of his career-high 65 passes for 342 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Mitchell was Stanley’s top target with 12 catches for 127 yards and Dylan Malson, who’s 11-yard touchdown grab brought Flanagan within five points with just over five minutes to play in the game, finished with six receptions and Emonee Spence had nine catches.
Patriots coach Damon Cogdell also gave his defense, which held Flanagan to negative (-28) rushing yards and racked up four sacks, credit for its performance in the playoff-clinching win.
“I don’t think people give this defense the respect that it deserves,” Cogdell said. “We’ve been the underdog role a lot over the years and we thrive in it. This defense has stood up for us and I think the group is really coming together as a family right now. All we have to is get in and we know what to do after that.”
• American Heritage 56, Dillard 0: Once again, American Heritage dominated a district opponent. This time it was a rout of Dillard, ruining the Panthers’ homecoming en route to the District 15-5A championship. The Patriots outscored their district opponents this season 228-21.
Heritage (8-1, 4-0) will face Miami Jackson in the regional quarterfinals in two weeks after concluding its season against Naples Golden Gate in Naples next Friday.
“We made it to his point last year. We were all new at it and didn’t do really well. We’ve got Golden Gate next week, but then it’s the third part of the season and the playoffs and that’s what we’ve been working for all year,” American Heritage coach Jeff Dellenbach said.
Isaiah McKenzie caught two touchdowns passes and Tyler Cogswell threw for 149 yards and three touchdowns as the outcome was never in doubt, just how quickly the game would go into running clock.
But the story was the Patriots’ dominating defense which got everything starting when Michael Deeb intercepted Lee Martin on Dillard’s first possession and returned it 37 yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead. The Patriots defense gave up only 54 total yards to a Dillard offense that scored 70 points just three weeks ago against Pompano Beach.
“That was a big play. Our defense has been doing an excellent job and Michael Deeb just read the ball perfectly,” Dellenbach said.
Leading 21-0 at the break, the Patriots blew the doors off the hinges in the third scoring 28 points.
McKenzie caught a 36-yard touchdown pass on a fly pattern and followed it with 13-yard touchdown pass on a crossing route. He made a sharp cut back inside and got into the end zone for a 35-0 lead.
Walter Tucker then scored on a 14-yard touchdown run with 4:10 to play in the third and backup quarterback Torrance Gibson found Victor Ferrara for a 14-yard touchdown pass with 26 seconds to play in the third.
Even in an embarrassing defeat, there is a silver lining for the Panthers (4-5, 2-2) as they will join Hallandale and Cardinal Gibbons in a three-way tiebreaker on Monday night at Gibbons for the right to be the district runner-up. Dillard will face Hallandale first for one quarter. The winner will play Gibbons. The winner of that quarter will be the runner-up and play defending state champion Miami Norland in the regional quarterfinals.
“We got to prepare ourselves for Monday and get ready to play Monday. It’s do or die Monday. It’s going to be hard, but we just got to keep fighting through it. I feel like we had a bad night, but we just need to move forward,” Dillard coach Lorenzo Davis said.
Archbishop McCarthy 8, Marathon 2: Yari Bradfield 3 goals, Alexa Rivera goal, Colleen Becker goal,
Amanda Perez goal, Toni Mendoza goal, Stephanie Moreno goal. AM 1-1
St. Brendan 1, Somerset 1: Alex Cinney goal, Adri Prieto assist, Mallory Ryan 5 saves. SB 1-0-1.
• North Broward Prep 48, Somerset Academy 15: The Eagles clinched a playoff spot as the runner-up in District 7-4A with the win. North Broward Prep (3-4, 1-1 District 7-4A) will face Booker T. Washington in the regional semifinals in two weeks.
“We certainly wanted to get back on a winning track after losing the past couple of weeks,” Eagles coach Rex Nottage said.
Trailing 15-14 after the first quarter, the Eagles went to the passing game as Kevin Bush connected with Chris Taylor for scores of 40 and 36 yards to put the Eagles up 28-15 at the break.
Bush threw for 198 yards and three touchdowns in the game. Taylor finished with six catches for 130 yards and three scores. Semar Smith added 131 yards on the ground and three scores for the Eagles.
After a quick start running the ball out of the wildcat, Somerset struggled to get its offense in gear after the first quarter. Raul Guardia rushed for 45 yards and one touchdown for the Panthers. The Eagles’ defense forced five turnovers against the Panthers.
• Taravella 31, Coral Springs 7: The Trojans (7-2, 4-1) secured the Mayor’s Cup with a dominant win, but later found out they were headed to a tiebreaker with South Plantation and Deerfield Beach for the two playoff spots in District 11-8A.
The three teams will play Monday night at 7 p.m. at South Plantation High. Taravella will play the first quarter of the tiebreaker against Deerfield Beach with the winner taking on South Plantation for the district title.
The Trojans are vying for their second consecutive district title after having not won one since 1986.
Lorenzo Jerome led the Trojans by rushing for three touchdowns and passing for another.
• Archbishop McCarthy 31, Champagnat Catholic 14: Mitchell Marrero ran for two touchdowns, and Paul Boy and Brandon Vicens each ran for one to lead the Mavericks to the home victory.
• Highlands Christian 56, West Palm Beach Summit Christian 20: Arelious Burns ran for 180 yards on 14 carries and Kyle Audet had two interceptions to lead Highlands Christian.
• South Florida HEAT 20, Northwest Christian 8: Joshua Stephenson and Jesse Fenton each had touchdown runs to lead HEAT.
• Delray American Heritage d. Calvary Christian: (forfeit).
District 11-8A tiebreaker at South Plantation: Deerfield Beach, Taravella, South Plantation, 7
District 15-5A tiebreaker at Cardinal Gibbons: Cardinal Gibbons, Hallandale, Dillard, 7
Dillard at Blanche Ely, 7
Hallandale at Boyd Anderson, 7
Coral Springs at Coconut Creek, 7
Cypress Bay at Douglas, 5
Pembroke Pines Charter at Everglades, 7
West Broward at Monarch, 4
Taravella at Northeast, 7
Deerfield Beach at Nova, 7
South Broward at Piper, 7
Miramar at Plantation, 7
Pine Crest at Pompano Beach, 7
Cardinal Gibbons at South Plantation, 7
American Heritage at Stranahan, 4
McArthur at Western, 7
North Broward Prep at Calvary Christian, 3:30
Dillard at Blanche Ely, 5
Hallandale at Boyd Anderson, 5
Coral Springs at Coconut Creek, 5
Hollywood Hills at Cooper City, 5
Pines Charter at Everglades, 5
Monarch at Flanagan, 5
Taravella at Northeast, 5
Deerfield Beach at Nova, 5
South Broward at Piper, 5
Miramar at Plantation, 5
McArthur at Western, 5
Archbishop McCarthy vs. Pope John Paul II (Pope John Paul II), 6
Pine Crest vs. Greater Miami Academy (Greater Miami Academy), 4
Pompano Beach vs. Hallandale (Hallandale), 7
Delray American Heritage vs. North Broward Prep (North Broward Prep), 7
Palmer Trinity vs. Archbishop McCarthy (McCarthy), 4
Pompano Beach vs. Hallandale (Hallandale), 5
Pine Crest vs. Greater Miami Academy (Greater Miami Academy), 2
University School vs. Ransom Everglades (Ransom Everglades), 3:30
Douglas vs. Cooper City (Home), 7
Piper vs. Coral Glades , 6
Dillard vs. Mourning (Mourning), 7
South Broward vs. Flanagan (Home), 5
McArthur vs. Miramar (Miramar), 7
Nova vs. Stranahan (Stranahan), 4
Nova vs. Taravella (Taravella), 4
Dillard vs. Mourning (Mourning), 5
Somerset Academy vs. Archbishop McCarthy (McCarthy), 4
Douglas vs. Cooper City (Cooper City), 5
Piper vs. Coral Glades (Coral Glades), 4
South Broward vs. Flanagan (Flanagan), 5
McArthur vs. Miramar (Miramar), 5
Coconut Creek vs. Monarch (Monarch), 4
Taravella vs. Nova (Nova), 5
Cypress Bay vs. St. Thomas Aquinas (St. Thomas Aquinas), 6