The third time proved to be the charm — and Monsignor Pace’s ticket to the flag football semifinals.
After seeing two touchdowns called back by penalties, Brandi Harrington went high to grab a 3-yard touchdown strike from Sabrina Cabrera with 3:18 left Friday night for a soggy 6-0 triumph over Delray Beach Atlantic that moved the Spartans one step from the state title game.
Harrington also had dashed into the end zone two plays earlier for an apparent 19-yard score, only to see it nullified when she was called for flag guarding at the 10-yard line.
But in a game marred by a driving rainstorm through most of the first half, one score was all that was needed to keep the Spartans’ unbeaten season alive — not to mention Miami-Dade County’s hopes for a first flag football title.
Pace (17-0) advanced to Saturday morning’s semifinal against defending champion Seminole Ridge. The Loxahatchee school blasted Tarpon Springs 32-0 in its quarterfinal.
Cabrera, after some early struggles in the storm, found her rhythm in the second half to wind up with 145 passing yards. The sophomore completed 18 of 42 passes on the evening, going 7-for-8 on what turned out to be the decisive drive.
Harrington led the Spartans with six catches for 51 yards, including three grabs as Pace went 72 yards for the winning points. Ariana Connor and Kadesha Floyd added five catches each, with Floyd’s 12-yard grab providing a key first down as the Spartans ran out the clock.
Justice Porter led Atlantic with both her legs and arm, rushing for 65 yards and adding another 72 through the air. But the Spartans also picked her off three times, capped by Wilson’s over-the-shoulder grab to stop a potential tying drive with 1:49 left.
• District 14 final — Southwest d. Columbus 26-24, 25-19, 25-19: Southwest (21-5) eliminated Columbus (16-9) from the postseason with a straight-set victory at Ransom Everglades.
Southwest outside hitter William Rodriguez had 13 kills in the match, including the game-winning spike in the third set.
“My teammates are awesome. They set me really well,” he said. “It started with the pass, it came with the set and I just finished.”
The Eagles’ Ricardo Reguera also benefited from his team’s stellar set-up work, scoring a team-high 14 kills.
While the Eagles showed they have an explosive offense, it was their defense that really made the difference against Columbus. Southwest’s Aaron Dos Santos was relentless, recording a team-high 17 digs, including several diving attempts.
“Coach told us if we played scrappy and played good defense we would win,” Rodriguez said.
Southwest will host the winner of the District 13 final on Tuesday.
• Region 3-8A quarterfinal — Flanagan 4, Coral Glades 3: When Flanagan pitcher Gentry Fortuno re-entered the regional quarterfinal game against Coral Glades, his Falcons had nearly lost a 4-0 lead that he helped build before rain interrupted his start a day earlier. With a runner on third with no outs in the top of the sixth, Fortuno struck out the next three Jaguar batters to end the inning.
Fortuno went on to retire six consecutive batters in two innings of relief as host Flanagan defeated Coral Glades.