Paladins capture district title


South Plantation avenged last week’s loss to Deerfield Beach and won a three-team tiebreaker.

Special to The Miami Herald

When Deerfield Beach spoiled South Plantation’s perfect season with a 21-14 victory on Friday night, it set up a tiebreaker between the teams, as well as Taravella, for the District 11-8A title.

The host Paladins beat the Bucks 3-0 in overtime on senior Zack Leatherman’s 31-yard field goal Monday night at Sandra Darr Athletic Field.

The Paladins (8-1, 4-1) captured their first district championship since 2005, which came in a shortened season because of Hurricane Wilma. They finished as runners-up last year.

“After losing to Deerfield on Friday it takes a lot of momentum — you’re 8-0 — and all of a sudden you’re sitting in a tiebreaker trying to fight for our survival,” South Plantation coach Doug Gatewood said.

“I’m just happy for the kids. We’ve fought all season.”

During regulation, the Bucks (5-3, 4-1) ran just more than eight minutes off the clock on 16 plays. Electing to try for a 26-yard field goal on third down with nine seconds remaining, senior Kris Rosales’ kick missed wide left.

Following an illegal substitution penalty at the start of overtime, senior John Franklin threw two incompletions, and senior Alex Collins rushed for 2 yards. South Plantation turned to Leatherman for the go-ahead score.

“Same thing I do every time in practice, game — same mentality — just stick to my form, basic fundamentals and look what comes out,” Leatherman said. “I was more anxious than nervous, just looking forward to it. I knew what I had to do and I knew I had my team on the line, so I just stuck to my fundamentals and [it was a] good outcome.’’

When Deerfield Beach got the ball, junior Brandon Powell rushed for 1 yard and junior Artez Levine lost 4 yards on the ensuing play. On third down, Levine connected with senior Jason Tony, but he was brought down at the 5-yard line. Senior Hordley Seide blocked Rosales’ 22-yard kick to clinch the South Plantation victory.

In the first game of the tiebreaker between the Bucks and last year’s district champion, Taravella (7-2, 4-1), regulation ended in a scoreless tie.

Powell scored on a 10-yard touchdown on the first play of overtime and Rosales connected on the extra point. Powell finished with 86 yards on seven carries.

With possession, the Trojans earned no gain on sophomore Jawanza Evans-Morris’ rush and senior Lorenzo Jerome threw into the end zone.

Senior Davory McKoy initially made the catch, but junior LaJavious Thompson’s hit jarred the ball in the air for junior Justin Morgan’s interception to send the Bucks into the rematch with the Paladins.

Deerfield Beach earned the district’s runner-up spot, and is playoff-bound.

“It’s tough to play back-to-back like that,” Deerfield Beach coach Allen Jackson said.

“We took [South Plantation] to the brink. We missed that field goal. We’re in the playoffs. We have to get ready for Miramar or Cypress Bay and take it from there.”

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