BELLE GLADE -- The magical march continues for the Jackson Generals.
The team most expected to get beat in the first round of the playoffs is in the state semifinal round for the first time since 2000.
Quarterback Quinton Flowers recovered from a shaky start to throw three touchdown passes and lead Jackson to a 33-24 victory in the Region 4-5A final Friday night against host Glades Central in Belle Glade’s Effie Grear Stadium, otherwise known as “The Muck.”
Flowers put the Raiders away on a third-and-4 with four minutes left when he threw a jump ball to the end zone that Devondre Powell jumped up and snagged from the defender to make it a two-possession game. The 22-yard pass marked the second time Flowers connected with Powell for a scoring strike.
“It doesn’t take one player,” said Flowers, who completed 7 of 14 attempts for 180 yards. “It takes a family. We’re all a family.”
Every time Glades Central bounced back in the game, the Generals would quickly respond.
The Raiders (9-5) appeared to have momentum in the fourth when they followed up a scoring drive that made it a two-point game with a three-and-out on Jackson’s ensuing drive.
But on Glades Central’s first play after getting the ball back, the Raiders fumbled, and Jackson’s Christopher Williams-Hall recovered it and took it 35 yards to the end zone.
“That’s a funny-shaped ball,” Jackson coach Antonio Brown said. “It travels in the air funny ways, and it bounces funny ways.”
The Generals first made it a two-possession game in the third quarter. With both defenses forcing the game into a stalemate with the score 12-10, Flowers completed an 80-yard pass to Desmond Phillips, who was streaking down the sideline for the score.
It didn’t start off looking like it would be Jackson’s night. Glades Central had all the momentum in the first quarter, leading 10-0.
The Generals defense, behind leading tackler James Alexander, kept the team in the game, and Flowers, who was picked off on his first pass attempt of the night, finally settled in to get Jackson going.
He hit Powell on an 11-yard slant for a touchdown for their first touchdown hookup toward the end of the first half and shortly thereafter the special teams unit came up with a blocked punt that Jephthe Jean-Charles recovered in the end zone to give Jackson its first lead.
Jackson (8-4), after finishing the regular season on a three-game losing streak, has now upset three consecutive opponents to reach states. First it was American Heritage, then district foe Norland, and now Glades Central.
Jackson will play Immokalee, a 38-21 winner against Lake Wales, in the semifinals.