North Miami safety/linebacker Nick Louis might make plenty of big plays before his team’s season is over. But none might be bigger than the one he made on Thursday afternoon.
With his team clinging to a four point lead and just over three minutes left, Krop punter Abraham Bentacourt took off running around the left side on a fourth-and-5 at midfield. He would only get four yards. That’s because Louis dove for his feet as he skirted the left side and barely was able to trip him up a yard short of the first down.
The Pioneers offense, which had struggled in the second half, then managed to run out all but 14 seconds of the remaining 3:05 to preserve a big 22-18 District 13-8A victory over the Lightning at Ives Estates Orange Bowl Field.
“It was ugly but a good kind of ugly,” said North Miami head coach Pat Colon. “And it was a huge win that puts us in the driver’s seat in the district now but we have to stay focused because we haven’t wrapped anything up yet.”
The win moved North Miami to 3-0 in the district (3-3 overall) and the Pioneers can virtually wrap up the district title with a win over Hialeah Gardens next week. Krop fell to 2-4 overall and 1-2 in the district.
“When we struggle, the offense picks us up so when we saw the offense struggle in the second half, we knew it was up to us to pick them up,” said Louis, who also had an interception one series before to halt the previous Krop drive. “We knew we had their back because this game was too important for us not to find a way to come out on top.”
Led by quarterback Isaiah Velez, the Pioneers moved the ball at will in the first half as he completed 10-of-12 passes for 118 yards and two touchdowns to give his team a 22-12 lead at the half.
But Velez injured his leg early in the third quarter and the offense got bogged down. Krop running back and FIU commit Lawrence Papillon was nearly unstoppable in the first half rushing for 158 yards on 12 carries including a 70 yard touchdown on the first play of the game. But Louis and the North Miami defense shut him down in the second half, holding him to just 10 yards on five carries.