In a state semifinal battle of undefeated 12-0 teams on Friday night, host American Heritage was able to withstand a late rally by Tampa Jesuit for a 21-14 victory to advance to the 5A state championship.
“In this business, a win is a win,” coach Patrick Surtain said. “We hung in there and beat a very good Jesuit team.”
Heritage led 21-0 midway through the third quarter. Tigers quarterback Daniel Boon ran in a 2-yard touchdown. He scored on another quarterback sneak with 4:03 left in the fourth quarter.
Jesuit tried an onside kick that was recovered by Patrick Surtain Jr. First-down runs by Jordan Johnson and Miles Jones helped set up a field-goal attempt with 21 seconds left. The kick was blocked, giving the Tigers a final possession.
American Heritage forced two incomplete passes, allowed a short pass and on the final play with two seconds left Jade Silvera came up big with a sack .
The Patriots will face Ponte Vedra in the state championship next Friday at 3 p.m. at Camping World Stadium in Orlando.
The first quarter was scoreless, with each defense making stops. Each team punted twice.
Heritage quarterback Jason Brown, a Harvard commit, passed for two touchdowns in the second quarter. The first came on a short pass to Miles Jones, who turned it up the sideline for a 68-yard score. Laress Nelson scored on a 23-yard pass from Brown with 3:32 left in the first half.
Jones scored another touchdown early in the third quarter on a 70-yard jet sweep up.
“The coaches put me in a position to make plays, I got great blocks and was able to take it to the house,” said Jones who finished with 111 receiving yards on four receptions and 105 rushing yards on eight carries.
Tampa Jesuit running back Malik Davis, a University of Florida commit, rushed for 141 yards on 26 carries. Davis’ 2,400-plus rushing yardage total is a school and Hillsborough county record.
Brown finished with 166 passing yards and rushed for 43 yards on 10 carries. Johnson rushed for 70 yards on 17 carries. Nelson had five receptions for 37 yards.
Heritage is seeking its third state championship in the past four years. In 2014, the Patriots defeated Godby (Tallahassee) 38-0 in the title game. In 2013, Heritage defeated Clay 66-8 to earn the state title. The Patriots entered the game ranked 19th in the nation by USA Today.