It was expected to be a tight and competitive game between two of Broward’s top high school football teams.
It did not disappoint.
A 26-yard field goal by junior Griffin Cerra and an interception by junior defensive back Ronald Hardge with a 1:23 left to play was enough for Cardinal Gibbons to hold on and defeat Deerfield Beach 23-21 at Deerfield Beach High on Friday.
“I was in basic read and just helping out on defense,” Hardge said. “I tried to make a big play.”
Gibbons (8-1) victory was the first in school history over the Bucks after losing six straight dating back to 1970.
“We tried to self destruct there in the end, but we figured a way out to finish the game off,” Cardinal Gibbons coach Matt Dubuc said. “This was a good practice game for the playoffs.”
Gibbons will travel to Riviera Beach Suncoast next Friday in a Class 5A regional quarterfinal.
The loss for the Bucks was the first in school history when entering the final game of the regular season with one or fewer losses. Deerfield was 12-0 before the setback.
Still the Bucks (7-2) had a chance with just under 18 second lefts with the ball at the Chiefs 35. Senior quarterback Alec Brown was unable to get a pass off in time and was sacked as time expired.
“We made a key mistake in the end,” Deerfield Beach coach Jevon Glenn said on the interception. “We made some other mistakes on defense when we could have gotten off the field.”
Brown had given the Bucks a 21-20 lead on a 55-yard touchdown pass to Jerry Jeudy in the third quarter.
The Bucks came out throwing on their opening drive after forcing Gibbons to punt.
Brown, who got the starting nod over a injured Nick Holm, was 7 of 10 for 85 yards including a 11 yards scoring pass to Taletrius Bradley for a 7-0 lead.
Holm missed the start nursing a sore right throwing shoulder. He is expected to get the start next week when the Bucks host Western in a Class 8A regional quarterfinal game.
Cardinal Gibbons responded with a nine-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a 40-yard touchdown pass from Nikolas Scazlo to a wide open Tavontae Decius that tied the score at 7-7.
Cerra gave the Chiefs a 10-7 lead early in the second quarter with a 45-yard field goal. It marked the first time Deerfield Beach had trailed in five games since losing to Grayson (Ga.).
Brown threw his second touchdown pass of the half to regain the lead, on a 5-yards toss to Cornelus McCoy to lead 14-10 with 1:37 left in the half.
Cerra added his second field goal, this time from 27 yards cutting the deficit to 14-13.