With two of the best defenses in Broward County, it was almost a given points would be hard to come by when Miramar visited South Plantation Friday night in a Region 3-8A first-round playoff game.
Mother nature ended up making it even tougher.
Playing in what amounted to a monsoon for much of the second and third quarters, and then a muddy mess the remainder of the game, Miramar took advantage of an early 24-yard field goal from kicker Michael Allinder and rode its swarming defense the rest of the way to a 3-0 victory.
Miramar (7-4) advanced to take on district rival Cypress Bay (8-3) in the regional semifinals next week. The Lightning won the regular-season meeting at Miramar 17-13.
“I felt a few drops in the second quarter and the next you thing you know it was coming down like crazy,” said Patriots coach Damon Cogdell, whose team was flagged with 17 penalties for 150 yards. “Sloppy play today. I was disappointed with the penalties. We were also in the red zone four or five different times and couldn’t put it in and that’s not good. We just got to get better, play more team ball and get focused for next week.”
Led by defensive end Jauquan Smith’s three sacks and Jermaine Grace’s team-leading eight tackles, the Patriots held South Plantation (9-2) to just 83 yards of total offense.
Paladins quarterback John Franklin was sacked eight times in all. Star tailback Alex Collins, who was battling an ankle injury over the final month of the season, finished with just 13 yards rushing on nine carries and left the game for good with a wrist injury early in the fourth quarter.
Despite the injuries and the struggles, South Plantation still had a chance to win late. After Miramar quarterback Nicholas Jeanty fumbled the snap at the Paladins’ 25-yard line and linebacker Drake Kavrik recovered, Franklin got South Plantation’s stagnant offense to pick up two first downs in a row and move near midfield with about a minute to play.
But after finally crossing the 50, Franklin took a vicious hit that knocked him out of the game. Franklin, who finished 6 of 17 passing for 42 yards, gave way to backup Brian Connerton with 55 seconds left as he was tended to by trainers. But after completing his first pass, Connerton was sacked on second down and threw and incompletion on third down, setting the stage for a fourth-and-12 from South Plantation’s 45-yard line.
Franklin gingerly walked his way back onto the field and threw a deep pass intended for receiver Howard Davis. But Davis was nowhere near it and the pass fell incomplete with eight seconds left. Miramar took a knee and ran out the final seconds.
“I’ve never played in conditions like this before, but there’s a first time for everything,” Smith said. “It was tough to move, but basically our defense is gap defense. So we did our job and held them and stepped up in the big time situations. We shut down two superstars.”
Miramar’s other defensive leaders included junior Alexander Trotman (five tackles, two sacks) and seniors Shawn Stephens (six tackles, two sacks) and Sanka Harris (seven tackles). Senior cornerback Andre Godrey had a first quarter interception which eventually led to Allinder’s field goal.
Miramar produced 217 yards of offense, but finished just one of six in the red zone. Cameron Rigby led the team with 60 yards rushing on 15 attempts. Jeanty finished 6 of 13 passing for 92 yards and ran six times for 45 yards.