Steven Stallings scored four touchdowns, including the game-winning, 63-yard Hail Mary on the final play of the game, to lift Braddock to a wild 27-24 victory over Coral Reef on Thursday afternoon.
Stallings, a 5-8, 140-pound junior who had only touched the ball seven times in Braddock’s 57-0 and 41-0 losses to North Miami Beach and Palmetto to start the season, made the winning grab with his back to the end zone at the 32-yard line when the ball deflected off the hands of Barracudas safety Colvin Alford.
Stallings then turned and outran two defensive backs into the end zone, setting off a celebration in the end zone with the entire team. The score put an exclamation point on Braddock’s first win of the season and dropped District 15-8A rival Coral Reef to 0-4.
“They tipped it and I got so scared when I saw the ball up in the air,” said Stallings, who was on the junior varsity at Braddock last season. “When I came down with it, I ran for my life to the end zone.
“I was kind of in shock. I didn’t think we were going to come back from that deficit like that. We just did it.”
Coral Reef took a 24-21 lead with 14 seconds to go when sophomore kicker Daniel Henderson booted a 46-yard field goal. That looked to be the decisive play in the game, but Stallings delivered a miracle.
He finished with 122 yards rushing and two scores on the ground and two catches for 115 yards and two scores. He tied the score at 7 in the third quarter with a 77-yard end around and then again at 21 when freshman quarterback Anthony Cordovi found him wide open with 1:57 to play.
Braddock led 14-7 entering the fourth quarter but squandered the lead. Junior tailback Cameron McGahee scored on an 11-yard touchdown run to the tie score at 14 with 8:53 remaining and then again from 13 yards out with 2:23 to play after defensive lineman Gianni Gonzalez picked off Cordovi and returned it deep into Braddock territory.
“Crazy indeed,” Braddock coach Juan Torres said of his team’s first win. “Great win, district win. I told the kids 0-2 doesn’t matter. We can get this ‘W.’ They came out and fought and earned that win for sure.”