Booker T. Washington figured out a way to continue winning state championships in 2015 following a defeat against Columbus.
The Tornadoes hope they did the same thing Thursday night in victory.
Booker T. Washington showed glimpses of the type of performances it will need to put together another state championship run during a 23-7 win over Columbus at Traz Powell Stadium.
The Tornadoes forced five turnovers, including two fumble recoveries and an interception by senior Rishard Dames.
And led by its passing game, Booker T. (6-3) scored 16 second-half points to take control of the game.
The Tornadoes, winners of four consecutive state championships, will play Edison next week for the District 8-4A championship.
“I like the focus and the fight we had and how we finished,” Booker T. coach Tim “Ice” Harris said. “Tonight showed we’ve been making those strides we need to make.”
Dames’ first quarter interception of Columbus quarterback Marcelo Rodriguez off a tipped pass set up the Tornadoes’ first score – a 5-yard touchdown pass from Daniel Richardson to Craig Nelson.
Dames later recovered a fumble on defense and on a punt return.
Dames said he felt the defense has made progress in recent weeks.
“Since the Central and Northwestern games, everybody’s doubted us,” Dames said. “We’ve had a chip on our shoulder. We knew we had to dominate our opponent.”
Richardson threw three touchdown passes and finished with 133 yards on 14 of 28 passes and no interceptions.
Rodriguez directed a 42-yard drive just before halftime that he capped with a 3-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Harrell to tie the score at 7.
But following a turnover, Richardson found Quayvon Beckford for a 35-yard touchdown pass.
Booker T. later pinned Columbus at its own 2-yard line on a punt and two plays into Columbus’ drive, tackled Explorers running back Darren Davis Jr. in the end zone for a safety.
The Tornadoes sealed the outcome when Richardson hit Tyquan Thornton for a 23-yard touchdown pass.
Harris said he likes the improvement he’s seen from his team since its 27-21 loss to Northwestern on Oct. 8, when the Tornadoes scored all of those points in the second half.
Booker T. followed that with a 58-10 win last week over Hialeah-Miami Lakes.
“As coaches we went back and studied what we did well in that second half against Northwestern game,” Harris said. “To come back and control a team like Columbus the way we did, it emphasizes where we need to be at this point in the year.”