South Dade was able to survive a late rally by North Miami Beach and held on for a 14-12 victory Friday night at Harris Field.
With under two minutes left, defensive lineman Taylor Ballinger intercepted a tipped pass to end a Chargers’ drive. After a defensive stop by North Miami Beach, a punt by South Dade (4-5) was returned to the 20-yard line.
“It was coming to the end and I had to make the play for my team,” Ballinger said.
The Chargers (6-3) had the ball on the Bucs’ 8-yard line with 30 seconds left and no timeouts. The first three downs resulted in incomplete passes by Wendell Morrison. On fourth-and-goal, Morrison connected with Fritz Merus for an 8-yard touchdown pass to make the score 14-12 with three seconds left in regulation.
On the two-point conversion attempt, Morrison scrambled and fired a pass to Vinshaun Cobham. With a defender diving at him, Cobham was unable to hang on to the potential tying reception. Most of the South Dade sideline emptied onto the field to celebrate. A flag was thrown since three seconds were left in the game. An onside kick was tried by North Miami Beach, but South Dade recovered it as time expired.
After a scoreless first quarter, Kane Vandemark scored on a 3-yard run for South Dade. Minutes later, North Miami Beach responded with a 21-yard touchdown pass to Volaskis Walkin from Morrison. The extra-point attempt was blocked. The Bucs led 7-6 at halftime.
Early in the fourth quarter, Darnell Durham scored on a 31-yard pass from Fralon Warren. Durham finished with a game-high 115 receiving yards and eight receptions. Morrison passed for 81 yards and rushed for 62 yards.
“It was a great game, we all played good for senior night,” Durham said. “It was my last game, an emotional game, and I wanted to go out with a bang.”
North Miami Beach will face Coral Gables in the first round of the playoffs. South Dade has been eliminated from playoff contention.