John O’Korn threw for 201 yards and a touchdown and rushed for another touchdown, and the St. Thomas defense limited Plantation to 86 yards of offense, created a pair of safeties and a short field for much of the game as the Raiders blasted Plantation 38-7 in the Region 4-7A semifinals at St. Thomas on Friday night.
The Raiders will host Boyd Anderson, a 6-3 winner of Palm Beach Gardens Dwyer, Friday in the regional final.
“I think the defense the last five weeks has played really, really good football,” St. Thomas coach Rocco Casullo said. “They are taking pride in their defense right now. All 11 guys are doing what they are supposed to do, and when you do that, good things happen.”
The Raiders, who beat Plantation 24-20 in the regular season, left no doubt in this one. The Raiders forced a Chris Lammons’ fumble at the Plantation 14-yard line on the first possession of the game that James Crawford scooped up and returned to the Plantation 1-yard line. Fred Coppet scored on the next play for a 7-0 lead.
After forcing a three-and-out on the next possession, O’Korn found Mark Barr two plays later for a 48-yard touchdown pass and a 14-0 lead. Then Aquinas picked up a safety when Plantation was attempting a punt and the snap sailed over the punter’s head. A 7-yard touchdown run by Coppet on the ensuing possession made it 23-0 five seconds in to the second quarter, and a sack by Joey Bosa of Lammons upped it to 25-0 just over a minute later. The rout was on.
The only highlight for the Colonels was a Sojourn Shelton 55-yard punt return for touchdown just before the end of the first half which cut the deficit to 28-7. But Aquinas scored 10 more points in the third for the final score.
The game was intense though even in a rout as a lot of chatter between the teams was going back and forth throughout. The question for the Raiders though is if Bosa will be eligible to play next week against Boyd Anderson.
Bosa appeared to be ejected for a flagrant personal foul in the fourth quarter, but the referee never used the ejection sign even though the referee said Bosa was ejected. Casullo didn’t know if Bosa had been ejected because of the lack clarity in the explanation from the referee, but did say that if Bosa was ejected it would be appealed.
With 1:52 to play in the third quarter, the game was halted for about 20 minutes due to a potential neck injury to Plantation linebacker Ray Ciervo. He lay motionless for a few minutes, but moved his legs shortly thereafter and was always alert. However, due precautionary measures he was immobilized with a neck brace, strapped to the board and transported by ambulance to Broward General Hospital for tests.
• Region 4-7A semifinal — Boyd Anderson 6, Palm Beach Gardens Dwyer 3: With yardage so hard to accumulate for the offense (49 total), Boyd Anderson came up with the big and timely defensive plays.
The visiting Cobras squeezed out a victory over Dwyer in a Region 4-7A semifinal playoff game.
For the second postseason game in a row, Boyd Anderson (9-2) came up with the game-winner in the fourth quarter when Gregory Hankerson, who completed just 4 of 14 passes for 95 yards, found Richard Lopez wide open for a 26-yard scoring play with 5:33 remaining. Just two plays earlier, the two hooked up for a 32-yard gain to the Panthers 25.
Just a week earlier, Hankerson threw the winning TD pass against Atlantic with 5:17 left.
After that the score against Dwyer (9-3), the defense once again went to work, killing the Panthers’ drive with defensive back Derrick Tindal picking off passes on consecutive possessions, including a desperation pass with time running out to draw a wild celebration from the Cobras, who earned the right to face St. Thomas Aquinas in next week’s round of eight.
Offense was equally futile in the first half as the teams combined to gain 56 total yards with Dwyer leading 3-0. Peyton Shapiro connected on a 31-yard field goal with 5:20 left in the first quarter.