Dade Christian quarterback Gary Sampson had 306 all-purpose yards and atoned for a critical interception by picking off Belle Glade Glades Day quarterback Josh Carr to help the Crusaders defeat the Gators 20-14 in the Region 4-2A final at Wooten Field on Friday night.
“He makes a bad throw and comes back and gets the interception,” Dade Christian coach Mike Sonneborn said. “He’s our emotional leader.
“He’s playing through pain, but he just got it done for us [Friday night].”
Dade Christian (11-0) advanced to the Class 2A state semifinals and will play the winner of Tampa Carrollwood and First Baptist in the state next week.
Sampson, who like most Crusaders plays both offense and defense, was one of three Dade Christian defensive backs to intercept Carr. The final Crusader pick came with less than a minute remaining in a one-score game that saw the Gators came storming back from a 20-6, third-quarter deficit. The Gators, and in particular Kelvin Taylor, Glades Day’s heralded halfback and the leading rusher in Florida history, seemed unstoppable in the final minutes.
Taylor, a University of Florida commit whose father, Fred, starred in the NFL, had his helmet come off after being tackled just inside the Crusaders 10-yard line with his Gators threatening to take the lead. But by rule, he was forced to leave for one down, and on the ensuing play Carr’s end-zone pass intended for Calvin Darville was intercepted by Terrance Alls with 36 seconds remaining, sealing the win.
Taylor (36 carries, 160 yards) hauled in a touchdown pass from Carr in the second quarter but was unable to break any of his signature big runs until late.
To that point, Taylor had scored all 14 points (two touchdowns and a two-point conversion) for Glades Day. Taylor’s longest run in the first half was just 7 yards, but he tallied 109 yards in the second half and was the catalyst for a Gators’ comeback that fell just short.
The Crusaders’ special teams were hit-or-miss most of the night, but Ivan Arenas’ two field goals proved to be the difference in a tight game. In the third quarter, Darville blocked a Dade Christian punt and recovered it on the Crusaders’ 18-yard line. Taylor later scored to narrow the margin to 20-14.
Turnovers plagued both teams. While Alls and Sampson were in tune (the senior quarterback found his receiver six times for 98 yards), a Dade Christian scoring opportunity was lost late in the second quarter when Alls, after making a catch deep in Gator territory, had the ball stripped from him by a Glades Day defender.
On the next play, running back Kenny Lewis fumbled away possession inside the 5-yard line. Lewis still ran for 96 yards on 11 carries.
• Region 4-8A semifinal — Columbus 42, Coral Gables 7: For a quarter, it seemed the post-Thanksgiving 1 p.m. start hindered both teams as they dueled to a scoreless stalemate.
But once Columbus got into a rhythm on offense and defense, there was little Coral Gables could do to slow down its district rival.
Linebacker Mikey Ferro and running back Lorenzo Woodley sparked a collective effort by the Explorers (8-4), whose offense totaled 349 yards and defense forced four turnovers in the rout at Traz Powell Stadium.
Ferro had a hand in causing three of Coral Gables’ four turnovers, and Woodley ran for 110 yards on 18 carries and scored three touchdowns. Oshton Armstrong finished with 78 yards.
Daryl Chestnut, who missed last week’s game against Krop with an ankle injury, played sparingly carrying the ball only four times for minus-5 yards.
Coral Gables (4-8) wrapped up its first playoff season since 2009, also the last time before Friday that the Cavaliers had scored points against Columbus. Robert Torrence caught a 1-yard touchdown pass from Dijon Smith in the third quarter. Torrence finished with 10 catches for 136 yards.
“We were a little flat at first, but we made adjustments and our defense played a great game,” Columbus coach Chris Merritt said. “Lorenzo had a big game as did Oshton and Daryl got back in. What it really comes down to our offensive line and their execution.”
Columbus advanced to the Region 4-8A final for the second season in a row and will host either Killian or South Dade next Friday. Those two teams will play in the other semifinal Saturday night.
If Killian wins, the game could be played at FIU Stadium. If South Dade wins, the game will be played at Traz Powell Stadium.
ANDRE C. FERNANDEZ