Booker T. Washington’s football team exuded the same confidence before Friday’s game against Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas that it had over the course of 41 consecutive victories.
None of that mattered.
The host Raiders brought the streak to a punishing halt turning four of their five interceptions into 28 points in a 35-3 rout of Booker T. Washington in front of an estimated crowd of 6,500 at Brian Piccolo Stadium.
The Tornadoes’ 41-game winning streak was a Miami-Dade County record, the longest active streak in the state and sixth-longest active streak in the nation.
“It means a lot because we know how much hard work went in to them putting together that streak,” St. Thomas Aquinas quarterback Jake Allen said. “We wanted to be the ones to end it.”
St. Thomas Aquinas (1-0), ranked No. 5 nationally by USA Today, recorded three of those interceptions in the first half to open up a 21-0 halftime lead.
Sophomore Asante Samuel had two of Aquinas’ interceptions, including one in the final minute of the game.
After Booker T. (1-0) scored its only points with 3:51 left in the third quarter on a 39-yard field goal by senior and FIU commitment Jose Borregales, another interception by senior Mark Williams ended any chance to sustain any momentum.
“We had too many turnovers,” Booker T. Washington coach Earl Tillman said. “We can’t turn the ball over against a good team like that.”
Allen completed 17 of 25 passes for 259 yards and threw four touchdown passes including two to senior Sam Bruce to break the game open. His second to Bruce from 32 yards out followed Williams’ takeaway and effectively put the game out of reach.
“Nationals is a mythical creature, but we want to win states, and we want to win nationals,” Allen said.
Seniors Frank Coppet and Alvin Davis, along with Samuel, each picked off Booker T. quarterbacks Eric Walker and Daniel Richardson.
Walker threw three interceptions and neither quarterback had much success against a stout defensive front led by Aquinas senior All-American Nick Bosa and Andrew White, who recorded 81/2 tackles and two sacks.
Booker T. (0-1), which entered this season having won three consecutive Class 4A state titles, entered the game expected to lose by numerous pundits all week.
The Tornadoes opened the game with an effective drive and didn’t seem fazed.
But the turnovers disrupted their early momentum and after falling behind 14-0 Booker T. switched from Walker to Richardson.
The move worked initially as the Tornadoes neared the red zone.
But dropped passes hurt Booker T. Washington’s best drive of the first half and prevented the Tornadoes from getting back in the game.
Richardson, a freshman, drove Booker T. down to Aquinas’ 27 and fired a pass into the end zone that went off the hands of senior Gustavious James. On the next play, a quick throw that could have resulted in a first down was dropped by Darrius Scott.
Richardson converted on fourth down, however, with a great pass to Raymond Flanders setting up first-and-goal at the 10. But following a holding penalty, Richardson was intercepted on an overthrown pass over the middle by Davis.
Running behind a stacked offensive line that brought in Bosa at right tackle to block, Devonta’e Henry Cole surged through the middle for the game’s first touchdown — a 3-yard score.
Henry Cole finished with 119 yards on 25 carries.
Allen found Bruce surging down the far sideline and hit him in stride for a 20-yard touchdown pass. Bruce finished with three catches for 63 yards.
Allen later found Dominic Thieman, who made two spin moves to avoid tacklers and scored on a 30-yard touchdown.
St. Thomas Aquinas
STA-Henry Cole 3 run (McCourt kick)
STA-Bruce 20 pass from Allen (McCourt kick)
STA-Thieman 30 pass from Allen (McCourt kick)
BTW-FG Borregales 39
STA-Bruce 32 pass from Allen (McCourt kick)
STA-Grimes 23 pass from Allen (McCourt kick)
Rushing (att-yds) -- BTW: Johnson 2-(-2), Hammett 2-(-1), Richardson 6-11, Nelson 3-15, Brownlee 8-24, Walker 12-33. STA: Allen 1-(-10), Charles 1-3, Williams 3-17, Kincaide 3-22, Bruce 3-28, Cole 25-118.
Passing (comp-att-int, yds)-- BTW: Richardson 5-14-2, 30, Walker 8-15-3, 61. STA: Allen 17-25-0, 259.
Receiving (rec-yds-TD) -- BTW: Nelson 2-(-2), Dames 1-6, Brownlee 1-9, Dames 1-11, Scott 4-21, Flanders 4-46. STA: Charles 1-4, Williams 1-5, Cullins 1-5, Jenkins 1-12, Cole 1-25, Irvin 4-29, Grimes 4-51, Bruce 3-63, Thieman 2-70.