The Dillard football team finally got it done. It brought the Soul Bowl Trophy back home with a dominating 22-6 win over arch rival Ely on Saturday night at Lockhart Stadium.
It was the Panthers’ first win over Ely (5-5) since 2008 and ended a four-game losing streak to its hated rivals.
After sparking Dillard (5-5) on Monday in a pair of 6-0 tiebreaker wins over Hallandale and Cardinal Gibbons to secure a playoff spot, Dre’Sean Nelson was at it again, rushing 21 times for 143 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The speedster had never beaten Ely and had never made the playoffs. He accomplished both in the same week.
“It [has] been three years, and we worked too hard for this. I’m glad we came together and pulled it through,” Nelson said. “When we went up 22-0, I seen they started to lay down.”
Nelson found the end zone on a four-yard touchdown run for a 7-0 lead with 5:13 to play in the first.
Then in a span of just under three minutes late in the first half, Dillard turned it into a blowout. The Panthers scored again on a Nelson one-yard touchdown run with 3:11 to play in the first half.
Lee Martin hit LaDarion McBride with a 9-yard touchdown pass for a 22-0 lead going into the break.
The Tigers scored in the third on a one-yard touchdown run by Terrance Blands, but never threatened again.
Now, the Panthers must put their great week aside and get ready for their playoff game against defending state champion Miami Norland.
“It’s a great experience. Since I took over the program, our first goal was to get the guys in the playoffs. Then the next thing was we had to beat Ely,” Dillard first-year coach Lorenzo Davis said. “It’s the seniors’ first time in the playoffs. As long as they keep believing, we’re going to get it done.”
• Late Friday - Calvary Christian 35, Highlands Christian 15: The Eagles scored four touchdowns thanks to their defense and special teams to pull off the road win.
• Region 4-1A: As first-year cross-country runners go, it doesn’t get much better than Calvary Christian eighth-grader Nicole Taggart basking in her improbable Region 4-1A victory.
Taggart, who gave up soccer for full-time cross-country training, left the Westminster Academy Sports Complex abuzz when she shaved an incredible 29 seconds off her previous personal-best, on one of Florida’s toughest courses, to claim the region title in 20:43.
Although Westminster Academy’s Amanda Baker and Florida Christian’s Victoria Camargo were billed as the runners to beat by flrunners.com , Taggart and Westminster Christian sixth-grader Hailey Mira, the surprise runner-up, turned those projections upside-down.
Baker dropped out with a quadriceps injury and Camargo finished fifth.
The top 15 individuals and top six teams advance to the FHSAA State Finals at Apalachee Regional Park in Tallahassee on Nov. 17.
Mira’s second-place finish in a career-best 20:51 helped the Warriors win its first region girls’ title.
King’s Academy’s Scott Simpson held up his No. 1 rank by winning the boys’ individual title in 16:35.
Brandon Bejarano led a 3-7-16 finish with Casey McCracken and David King, to help the Lions edge Calvary Christian by two points for its second consecutive regional boys’ title.