Killian’s football team didn’t change anything on the playoff bracket Wednesday night.
But it did alter the perception of what to expect in the upcoming Class 8A playoffs.
The Cougars sent a clear message they are legit contenders for a state championship by rallying to beat Columbus 21-17 at Southridge Stadium.
Jaquan Johnson reached up and hauled in a 23-yard touchdown pass from quarterback David Felipe with 24 seconds remaining to give Killian (8-1) the game-winning score over the Explorers (6-4) in the regular-season finale for both teams.
Johnson ended any hopes of a comeback on the ensuing drive by intercepting a desperation pass by Columbus quarterback Tucker Beirne on the final play.
“It’s a big win for us,” Johnson said. “We had to make big plays to win and we did. We’re going to celebrate tonight, but then we have to get back tomorrow and start working to get ready for the playoffs.”
Killian’s defense forced three Columbus turnovers including two timely fumbles that set up its other two touchdowns. Felipe converted both on touchdown runs of 2 and 4 yards as the Cougars erased a 17-7 fourth quarter deficit.
Killian opens the postseason next Friday against Southwest at 7:30 p.m. at Tropical Park. Columbus will play Dr. Krop at Tropical Park at 7 p.m. next Thursday.
Senior Daniel Fernandez has been at the heart of the Columbus cross-country team’s return to prominence this season.
Fernandez secured another big win for himself and his teammates Wednesday afternoon by winning the boys’ individual and team titles of the Region 4-4A meet at Larry and Penny Thompson Park.
Fernandez ran a time of 16:03.72 to edge sophomore rivals Nick Diaz of Sunset (16:11.79) and Kurt Convey of Coral Reef (16:23.90) for the crown.
Columbus, in turn, edged Sunset by 11 points for the team title.
“This was really important for us because we were off stride the past three weeks,” Fernandez said. “We looked back at a lot of stuff we were doing wrong as a team and we came out strong from the first mile today.”
On the girls’ side, Ferguson picked up another win securing the team title by scoring 22 points to finish ahead of Lourdes’ 43. Stephanie De La Guarda won the individual title by running a time of 19:34.46 to finish ahead of teammate Katrina Santiago’s 19:53.34. Santiago had been Ferguson’s big winner of late, but coach Ryan Raposo said she had been battling stomach cramps during the race.
ANDRE C. FERNANDEZ
• Boys’ team state qualifiers: 1. Columbus 33; 2. Sunset 44; 3. Ferguson 88; 4. Coral Reef 113; 5. Varela 136; 6. Coral Park 157. Girls’ team qualifiers: 1. Ferguson 22; 2. Lourdes 43; 3. Coral Reef 80; 4. South Dade 113; 5. Coral Park 166; 6. Coral Gables 173. Boys’ individual qualifiers: 1. Daniel Fernandez (COL) 16:03.72; 2. Nick Diaz (SUN) 16:11.79; 3. Kurt Convey (CR) 16:23.90; 4. Fabian Delgado (KIL) 16:30.07; 5. Ronny Greenup (SUN) 16:34.42; 6. Kenneth Castro (SUN) 16:39.31; 7. Daniel Linares (COL) 16:40.31; 8. Patrick Cabrera (COL) 16:45.75; 9. Angelous Serna (VAR) 16:52.05; 10. Marcos Garcia (COL) 16:55.71; 11. Pedro Hernandez (COL) 16:56.16; 12. Eric Dusseau (PAL) 17:02.68; 13. Giovanni Herrera (FER) 17:04.80; 14. Malik Gunter (SUN) 17:10.65; 15. Santiago Saiki (FER) 17:11.07. Girls’ individual results: 1. Stephanie de la Guarda (FER) 19:34.46; 2. Katrina Santiago (FER) 19:53.34; 3. Molly Price (LOU) 19:57.18; 4. Aylwyn Hernandez (FER) 20:00.24; 5. Lourdes Brea (LOU) 20:07.46; 6. Samara Taylor (CR) 20:09.50; 7. Lauren Gavulic (FER) 20:15.79; 8. Rachel Licea (FER) 20:22.37; 9. Lea Tardanico (VAR) 20:31.64; 10. Kassandra Blandon (MB) 20:51.28; 11. Madison Fernandez (LOU) 20:52.84; 12. Barbra Vilson (SD) 20:57.94; 13. Bianca Barrios (LOU) 20:59.84; 14. Lauren Garcia (LOU) 21:05.71; 15. Lauren Holian (CR) 21:16.12.
It was a tough day at state for Miami-Dade County as no boys’ or girls’ team advanced past the first round.
Ferguson’s Melissa Perez, however, gave Dade a presence going into Thursday’s final day at the FHSAA tournament at the Boardwalk Bowl in Orlando. Perez made it out of the first round with a pinfall of 797 to place 16th individually. The top boys’ Dade individual performance was South Dade’s Sean Ottoway, who bowled an 821 series in four games.
• Reagan 38, Sunset 0: All season long, running back Keenan Springer has been the catalyst for the Ronald Reagan power ground attack. And Wednesday night, Springer, who went into the night leading all Dade rushers with 1,084 yards, turned in another gem.
Springer scored three times and finished the night with 244 yards on 15 carries to lead the Bison at Milander Stadium. Reagan improved to a school-best 8-1 on the season. A missed game against Mourning because to Hurricane Sandy will be made up next week giving Springer one more game to add to his 1,328 yard total.
• South Miami 17, Varela 0: Leo Lorenzo carried the ball 19 times for 117 yards and ended his high school career leading South Miami (6-4, 2-2) in a season-ending win against playoff-bound Varela (4-5, 3-1) at Tropical Park.
“My first two years we had a losing record, then last year and this year we had winning records. I would have loved to go to the playoffs, but we still ended on a good note,” said Lorenzo, who plays running back, quarterback and linebacker for the Cobras.
The speedy Lorenzo put his mark on the game in the fourth quarter when he vaulted into the end zone over three Vipers, giving South Miami a 14-0 lead. However, Lorenzo had his most luck bouncing outside, rushing for 85 yards when going outside the tackles.
After Cobras quarterback Patrick Coats found Jamal Brown for a 50-yard touchdown in the opening minutes, it was slow going for South Miami’s offense. Linebacker Daniel Hadfeg recovered two red zone fumbles by the Cobras as the first half wound down, but Varela could not capitalize.
Varela’s health heading into next week’s playoff matchup against South Dade is in doubt, as quarterback Storm Smith was taken from the field by ambulance after Anthony De La Vega drove him into the turf on a pass attempt in the third quarter. Lorenzo put a vicious hit on backup quarterback Justin Vargas in the fourth quarter, and one of the Vipers’ best athletes, Zachary Deer, injured his ankle early in the game.
• Hialeah 35, Palmetto 6: The Hialeah Thoroughbreds (5-4, 1-2) ended their season in a sloppy but intense non-district game against the Miami Palmetto Panthers (3-7, 0-4) in front of only 45 fans at Traz Powell Stadium.
Hialeah, which made it to the 8A regional quarterfinals last season, kept the Panthers, who have not been to the playoffs since 2008, scoreless in three quarters.
The game was called early after four skirmishes between players, one that led to the ejection of Hialeah’s defensive lineman, Jermaine Sheriff, and a heated exchange between both sides late in the fourth.
• North Miami 5, Hialeah 2: Shirlande Jean 2 goals. Rochelle Hall 2 goals, 2 assists. Sendy Milliein goal. NM 1-0.
• Mater Academy 8, Hialeah-Miami Lakes 0: Julissa Benitez 2 goals, assist. Saige Griffin 2 goals, assist. Arianna Lopez 2 goals. MA 5-0.
• La Salle 3, Palmer 1: Danielle Peña goal. Sol Baldassini goal. Alex Alvarido goal. Nicole Baldassini assist. LS 2-0.
• South Dade 0, Ferguson 0: Brittany Hoskins shutout. SD 3-0-1.
• Miami Springs 2, Doral 0: Alessandra Salazar goal, assist. Odailys Matos goal. Annet Cease assist. MS 5-0-0.
• Killian 3, Varela 2: Stephanie Galindo goal. Emily Boggess assist. Erika Foreman 2 goals. 3-1-0.
• Late Tuesday – Gulliver 8, Archbishop Carroll 0: Samantha Earle 2 goals. Samantha Lujan goal, 3 assist. Khara Vassell goal. Ciara Keane shutout. GUL 3-0-1.
• Booker T. 4, TERRA 2: Jonathan Arbizu goal. Alejandro Varela 2 goals. Edgar Balderama goal. BTW 1-1.
• Miami Beach 4, North Miami Beach 2: Cristian Sanchez 2 goals. Tomas Moffatt goal, 2 assists. MB 1-0.
• Homestead 5, Goleman 2: Francy Moreno 3 goals. Christian Velasquez goal. Joshue Almanza goal.
• American 4, Miami Springs 0: Diego Arcon goal, 2 assists. Osmar Sequeira goal. Julian Burbano goal. American 1-0-1.
• Mourning 8, Dillard 0: Matheus Mera 2 goals. Ivan Barriga 2 goals. Skyler Reese goal. ATM 1-0-1.
• Ferguson 3, Southridge 1: Carlos Sanchez 2 goals. Adrian Davice goal. FER 2-0.
• Jackson 4, Norland 0: Maximilian Tejera 2 goals. Carlos Moncada shutout. JAC 1-0.