Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas showed glimpses Thursday night of what an explosive team it promises to be once again in 2015.
Led by junior Jake Allen, who is entering his first season as the team’s starting quarterback, the Raiders overcame a slow start to shut out Dillard 24-0 in a preseason classic at Brian Piccolo Stadium.
Allen completed 27 of 33 passes for 369 yards and threw three touchdown passes.
“I thought the guys did a great job of executing with professionalism [Thursday night],” Aquinas coach Roger Harriott said. “This game was a great teaching tool going forward.”
Two of those connections went to senior receiver Sam Bruce, who finished with 10 catches for 160 yards.
After stalling on its first drive Aquinas found rhythm and scored when Bruce caught a pass deep over the middle for a 44-yard touchdown.
Bruce made an even better play in the third quarter when he caught a short pass and zigzagged his way through the Dillard secondary for a 45-yard touchdown that gave St. Thomas a 17-0 lead.
Allen threw his third touchdown pass to Trevon Grimes in the fourth quarter from 35 yards out.
“We definitely had some bright spots on offense,” Harriott said. “Jake did a great job overcoming some difficulty early on. He pulled his team together and finished the game on a positive note.”
Dillard, a favorite to win District 15-6A this season, showed why its defense is regarded as one of Broward County’s best.
The Panthers frustrated Aquinas’ offense the rest of the first half, sacking Allen twice as Kenneth Ruff and Braylen Ingraham each got to the quarterback.
Ruff also recovered a fumble that nearly led to Dillard tying the score. Aquinas’ defense stood tough, however, denying the Panthers on fourth down inside the 10. Although the teams kicked field goals and extra points, the exhibition game was played without the teams returning or rushing punts and kicks.
“The defense kept attacking and stayed focused,” Harriott said.
Aquinas, the reigning Class 7A state champion, will open the regular season ranked No.5 nationally by USA Today.
Its first test will be on Aug. 28 against Miami Booker T. Washington, which owns a Miami-Dade County-record 41-game winning streak.
The game is scheduled for 8 p.m. at Aquinas and will be televised on ESPN. Tickets for the game will go on sale at both schools for $10 beginning Tuesday.
“We just have to manage our emotions in that game and executing with precision,” Harriott said. “The special teams weren’t part of this game [Thursday night], but once it is included next week, I think you will see a sound, collaborative effort from this team.”
▪ Jackson 34, Cypress Bay 9: His final numbers were fairly pedestrian, but Jackson quarterback Desmond Phillips sure didn’t have an average game.
Phillips’ Houdini-like escapability allowed him to run through, around and in between frustrated Cypress Bay defenders all night long to lead the Generals to an impressive drubbing of the Lightning in a preseason kickoff classic at Flanagan High School that was a predetermined three-quarter game.
Phillips finished the night 14 of 24 for 149 yards and one touchdown. He also rushed for 34 yards on nine carries and ran for a score as well as Jackson blew out to a 34-0 halftime lead.
He should have had two more touchdown passes had it not been for drops. And even though it looked like he should have been sacked three or four times, he dodged his way out of trouble every time.
“Des is like Michael Vick of the Atlanta Falcons out there,” Jackson coach Earl Little said. “He’s accurate, intelligent, obviously an athlete, can run, throw and just brings so many headaches to defensive coordinators as a dual-threat guy. He’s like Houdini out there, and we’re looking for him to have a big year.”
Said Phillips, who has verbally committed to Toledo but is still leaving his options open: “I was taught to have fun with it. Not just be so uptight so that’s what I did out there. I just want to go out there and bring some high energy to the team. We have a lot of playmakers on offense, and we showed that out there [Thursday night].”
Phillips ran for a 3-yard score in the second quarter to put his team up 20-0 and then threw a 5-yard touchdown pass 42 seconds before halftime to complete Jackson’s 34-point, first-half onslaught.
It was an uncharacteristically mistake-prone night for the usually disciplined Mark Guandolo-led Lightning as it committed 13 penalties for 106 yards in just three quarters, fumbled the ball away twice and saw a roughing-the-punter penalty keep a Jackson drive going that eventually led to a touchdown.
The fourth quarter was conducted under a running clock that had backups and junior varsity players on both sides.
MORE PRESEASON FOOTBALL
▪ Norland 47, North Miami 0.
▪ Carol City 44, Mater Academy 9.
▪ Cooper City 21, Krop 17.
▪ NSU University School 28, Westminster Academy 6.
▪ Hialeah Miami Lakes 14, Miami Springs 6.
▪ Everglades 17, Homestead 13.
▪ Hallandale 36, Miami High 21.
▪ Dade Christian 34, North Broward Prep 7.
▪ Chaminade-Madonna 29, South Broward 0.
▪ Late Wednesday — Preseason: Westwood Christian d. Greater Miami (27-25, 25-14): Jisely Lopez 10 assists. Lauren Amat 4 digs. Christina Molina had 4 kills
▪ Late Wednesday — Preseason: Varela d. Braddock (25-16, 25-14): Claudia Campero 5 kills, 4 aces, 7 digs. Tiffany Bolanos 6 kills, 4 aces, 6 digs. Fabiola Plaza 13 assists, 4 kills, 3 digs.
Citra North Marion vs. Booker T. (Traz), 7:30
Central at Royal Palm Beach, 7
Columbus at Winter Haven, 7
Northwestern at PBG Dwyer, 7
Coral Reef at Monsignor Pace, 7:30
NMB vs. Mourning (N. Miami), 3
Plantation vs. Monarch (Deerfield), 5
Coconut Creek at Deerfield Beach, 8
Palmetto at Belen, 4
Edison at Coral Park, 4
Ferguson at Coral Gables, 4
La Salle at Doral, 7
Gulliver at Somerset Academy, 4
Taravella at Loxahatchee Seminole Ridge, 7
Boyd Anderson at Cardinal Gibbons, 7
Boca Raton at Coral Springs, 7
Hialeah Gardens at Coral Glades, 7
University School at Westminster Academy, 7
Pompano Beach at Pine Crest, 7
Hollywood Hills at Western, 7
Fort Lauderdale at Calvary Christian, 7
Jamboree at Douglas: Coral Springs Charter vs. Keys Gate, 6; Keys Gate at Douglas, 7; Coral Springs Charter vs. Douglas, 8
Piper at McArthur, 7
West Broward at Boca Raton Spanish River, 7
Pembroke Pines Charter at Melbourne Holy Trinity, 7
Highlands Christian vs. Zion Lutheran (Deerfield Middle), 7
Paul Public Community Charter at Palmer Trinity, 4
Archbishop Curley at Riviera Beach Inlet Grove, 7
Miramar vs. American (Traz), 7
American Heritage at Bradenton IMG Academy, 7