Heading into a hostile environment where the home team hasn't lost since 2006 can be a intimidating set of circumstances for any football team. But that's just what the Miami Columbus Explorers did on Saturday when they defeated Highlands (KY) in Kentucky 38-34.
The Explorers (6-1, 3-0 in 14-8A) jumped out to an early 31-7 lead in the 3rd quarter thanks to the play of quarterback Tucker Beirne, who three touchdown passes to Nick Hernandez, Jerrod Rollins and Austin Maloney. Maloney had over 100 yards receiving on the night.
Joshua Jobe also returned a kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown. Columbus Coach Chris Merrit said that the team played mistake free football in the first half, but it got a bit dicey in the second.
After a Beirne interception, the Bluebirds drove down the field and scored. Merritt said that Highlands utilized the no huddle offense, which took a lot of energy out of his defense.
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With 3:30 left in the game, the Explorers were driving down the field and getting getting first downs. Then, Beirne fumbled the exchange with his center on the snap. The Bluebirds marched own and scored.
The Bluebirds then recovered onside kick, but the Explorers defense was able to hold at the end.
Merritt said that he wanted to use this game to get his team ready for the type of atmosphere that they could see if they make a deep run in the playoffs.
"If we're fortunate enough to make it to the 3rd round of playoffs, that's what its going to be like," Merritt said.
The Explorers will take on South Miami next Saturday in a district match up.
▪ Central 35, Norland 0: The potent running back tandem of Anthony Jones and Cedric Miller, and its stingy defense led the Rockets to another lopsided district victory Saturday night at Traz Powell Stadium.
Jones finished with 131 yards on 13 carries and scored three touchdowns, and Miller finished with 71 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries to help Central (6-1, 2-0 in district) move into sole possession of first place in District 16-6A. The Rockets’ defense posted its second consecutive shutout and third of the season.
Central has won four consecutive games since its loss to Booker T. Washington and its starting defense has not allowed any points during that span.
“I’ve known Cedric since we were in little league and he’s always been an explosive player,” said Jones, who is the cousin of former Central star running back and Florida State freshman Dalvin Cook. “I’m glad to have him in the backfield with me.”
Miller broke a 51-yard touchdown run in the first quarter and Jones broke loose for his own 70-yard score in the second to help give Central a 14-0 edge over Norland (3-2, 2-1) at halftime.
“We had to be patient against this defense,” Central coach Roland Smith said. “They do a great job on blitzes so we made some good adjustments. Jones does a lot for us offensively. He’s a dual threat guy.”
The Vikings, who went 3-7 last season, have a bye next week before they play Carol City Oct. 24 in their final district game. If Norland wins that game, it would clinch a playoff berth if Central defeats Northwestern Friday.
Norland was unable to muster much against Central’s defense, which held the Vikings to 47 rushing yards and 189 overall.
Fermin Silva had an interception that led to one of Jones’ touchdown runs.
In the third quarter, Olin Cushion recovered a fumble and returned it three yards for a touchdown.
“Every day us and the offense go at it in practice so it should look like it’s easy for us,” Silva said. “We’re just trying to stay healthy and stay together to keep this going.”
ANDRE C. FERNANDEZ
▪ Southwest 29, South Miami 7: With three consecutive district games on the horizon, Southwest needed to regain some confidence after shaky performances in the Eagles' three previous outings. Winning every facet of the game from offense to defense to special teams in a dominant victory against South Miami Saturday night at Tropical Park will suffice for coach Tim Neal.
"In the areas where we needed to pick up the slack, we picked up the slack," said Neal, who refused to shake hands with South Miami postgame because he says the Cobras coaching staff threatened his players in last season's meeting and this year sent him inadequate film leading up to Saturday's affair. "We're coming together as a team."
Deundre Pickett-White shook off two early interceptions to throw three touchdown passes and went 13 of 25 for 193 yards. Daquntay Smith caught two of the touchdown passes, and CJ McWilliams led the Eagles (5-1, 1-1) with 104 receiving yards. The Southwest defense forced five turnovers on South Miami (2-4, 1-1), and kicker Antonio Garcia made three field goals.
▪ Hollywood HIlls 47, West Broward 10: Hollywood Hills quarterback Darius Greene completed 10 of 20 passes for 250 yards and four touchdowns as the Spartans defeated West Broward 47-10 in a District 15 7A game at Billie R. Gill Stadium Saturday night. Greene also rushed the ball for 114 yards on 7 carries with a touchdown.
With the victory the Spartans improve to 3-3 and 2-1 in District 15-7A.
"It was a great night tonight. We really needed this victory," Greene said. "We came out ready to play tonight. We had to take care of our business."
Greene's top target was Winston Job who caught six passes for 186 yards and two touchdowns.
"Job keeps me on point and I know that I can always count on him to get open," Greene said. "He makes my job as quarterback a lot easier."
Job said he felt more comfortable against West Broward Saturday night than he has all season.
" I just felt like I had all of my skills clicking tonight. I ran good routes and the ball was where it should be," Job said. "I kept it going all night long and we got a big win."
Ahman Bowen led the Bobcats (0-7, 0-4) with 119 yards rushing. He scored West Broward's lone touchdown on a 65-yard run late in the fourth quarter.
▪ Westminster Christian 48, Keys Gate Charter 6: Wesminster Christian scored three touchdowns in the first six minutes of the game and never looked back, cruising to a 48-6 rout of Keys Gate Charter in a non-district contest at Southridge High School on Saturday afternoon.
The Warriors, ranked No. 15 in the Miami Herald South Florida poll and have already clinched their district, improved to 6-1 while independent Keys Gate fell to 1-4.
Westminster linebacker Jimmy Armstrong picked off a Keys Gate pass on the game’s third play and returned it 17 yards fora score to get things going for the Warriors. Tim Irvin returned the next KG punt 40 yards to set his team up at the 22 and three Jordan Cronkite rushes later, it was 14-0 with Cronkite, who finished the day with 76 yards on 15 carries, taking it over from a yard out.
WC then blocked the next punt and one play later quarterback Christian Matos found Tobias Moss for an 8 yard touchdown. with 5:48 left in the first.
The Warriors then put up two quick touchdowns just before halftime, the first a 69 yard Darren Jones run with 1:46 left and the second, a 10 yard Matos toss to Irvin with 30 seconds left to make it 41-0 and initiate a running clock in the second half.
Keys Gate avoided the shutout when Ray Gage scored from five yards out on the last play of the game.
MIAMI CENTRAL 35, NORLAND 0
CEN - Miller 51 run (Piraquive kick)
CEN - Jones 70 run (Piraquive kick)
CEN - Cushion 3 fumble return (Piraquive kick)
CEN - Jones 2 run (Piraquive kick)
CEN -Jones 3 run (Piraquive kick)
Rushing (att-yds) -- NOR: Joseph 1-(-11), Dorvilier 3-(-3), Thomas 1-5, Robinson 10-15, Wright 13-16, Murat 6-25. MC: Thomas 3-(-15), Atkin 1-(-2), Witherspoon 1-2, Miller 14-71, Jones 13-131. Passing (comp-att-int, yds)-- NOR: Robinson 10-25-1, 142. MC: Atkin 1-1-0, 18, Thomas 4-11-0, 57. Receiving (rec-yds-TD) -- NOR: James 2-11, Scott 3-47, Robinson 5-84. MC: Phillips 2-17, Jones 1-18, Joyner 2-40.
SOUTHWEST 29, SOUTH MIAMI 7
SW- FG Garcia 39
SW- Flowers 8 pass from Pickett-White (run failed)
SM- Butler 63 pass from Wright Jr. (Piloto kick)
SW- Smith 7 pass from Pickett-White (Garcia kick)
SW- FG Garcia 37
SW- FG Garcia 29
SW- Smith 5 pass from Pickett-White (Garcia kick)
Rushing (att-yds) -- SW: Pineda 1-7, Perez 4-13, Sands 7-24, Pickett-White 10-56, Tutson 7-61. SM: Piloto 2-10, Wright Jr. 9-13, Thompkins 16-71. Passing (comp-att-int, yds)-- SW: Sands 0-1-0, 0, Pickett-White 13-25-2, 193. SM: Wright Jr. 6-18-2, 116. Receiving (rec-yds-TD) -- SW: Flowers 1-8, Corker 1-14, Pineda 2-19, Smith 5-48, McWilliams 4-104. SM: Piloto 2-7, Reed 1-13, Butler 3-96.
HOLLYWOOD HILLS 47, WEST BROWARD 10
HH - Aldred 35 yard pass from Greene (Segura kick)
HH - Henderson 1 yard run (kick failed)
HH - Greene 33 yard run (Segura kick)
HH - Job 5 yard pass from Greene (Segura kick)
WB - Chisolm FG 46
HH - Job 49 yard pass from Greene (Segura kick)
HH - Montanez 13 yard run (kick failed)
WB - Bowen 65 yard run (Chisolm kick)
Rushing (att-yds) WB: Durante 16 (-19), Bowen 13-119, Thompson 1-4; HH: Greene 7-114, Henderson 5-31, Williams 3-11, Clarke 2-48, Montanez 1-13. Passing (comp-att-int, yds) WB: Durante 7-14-0, HH: Greene 10-20-1. Receiving (rec-yds-TD) WB: Bowen 1-15, Mitchell 6-63; HH: Job 6-186, Montanez 2-17, Aldred 2-44
WESTMINSTER CHRISTIAN 48, KEYS GATE 6
WC - Armstrong 17 interception return (Reed kick)
WC - Cronkite 1 run (Reed kick)
WC - Moss 8 pass from Matos (run failed)
WC - Broadway 32 fumble return (Reed kick)
WC - Jones 69 run (Reed kick)
WC - Irvin 10 pass from Matos (Reed kick)
WC - Whyte 3 run (Reed kick)
KG - Gage 5 run (no attempt)
Rushing (att-yds) -- WC: Matos 5-(-10), Machado 1-0, Whyte 1-3, Irvin 1-9, Oliver 3-15, Cronkrite 15-76, Jones 6-88. KG: Ortiz 4-(-34), Morgan 2-(-21), Williams 3-(-6), Gage 2-1, Mingo 9-10, Williams 6-21. Passing (comp-att-int, yds)-- WC: Matos 7-15-0, 76. KG: Ortiz 1-4-0, 7, Morgan 3-12-0, 30, Williams 3-3-0, 85. Receiving (rec-yds-TD) -- WC: Moss 2-13, Oliver 2-20, Irvin 3-43. KG: Harbin 2-26, Mingo 3-30, Gage 2-66.