The way Tyler Huntley has thrown the football all season, Dillard’s defense knew it was going to have to put pressure on Hallandale’s sophomore sensation to have any hope of knocking off the undefeated Chargers.
Led by senior defensive ends Rico Kennedy (2 1/2 sacks) and Randy Ramsey (sack, fumble recovery), the Panthers racked up seven sacks, throwing off the Chargers’ high-powered attack en route to a thrilling 22-15 upset at Hallandale.
With a win next week over visiting Riviera Beach Suncoast (1-5), the Panthers (5-2, 5-0) will lock up the District 15-6A crown.
“It means a lot to the kids,” second-year Dillard coach Lorenzo Davis said. “All week long the kids had been telling me, ‘We got your back, Coach. Don’t worry about anything.’ I’m so proud for the kids and the effort they gave tonight.”
Leading by seven in the fourth quarter, the Panthers forced two huge turnovers.
The first was a fumble forced by sophomore defensive tackle Aaron Thompson and recovered by Ramsey at the Hallandale 33-yard line with 3:50 to play. The last was an interception by sophomore Keyandre Carr, who jumped a slant pattern and caught the ball as he was falling to the ground at the Panthers 37-yard line with 1:34 remaining.
“I had to make a play for my team and I did my best,” Carr said. “I can’t really say much. I’m just excited.”
After a scoreless first quarter, Dillard jumped out to a 15-0 lead with a pair of touchdowns in a quick four minute span. First, Panthers quarterback Bud Martin found junior Brandon Mosley on a 21-yard touchdown strike with 10:43 left in the half. Then, senior tailback Eddie Roberts scored on a one-yard run.
Huntley, who finished 16 of 35 for 370 yards, connected with sophomore receiver Chris Cotto on a 42-yard touchdown pass just before the end of the half. The Chargers then tied the score at 15 when Taj McGowan scored on a 7-yard run with 6:23 to play in the third quarter.
But despite having momentum on its side, Hallandale (7-1, 4-1) couldn’t slow Martin down. He connected with University of Miami-bound Dennis Turner on a 37-yard pass play. Two plays later, Martin found senior Elijah Johnson on a fade route for a 16-yard scoring strike, what eventually ended up being the difference in the game.
“Getting up 15-0 early was huge because in the last two weeks we weren’t able to settle in quickly like we did tonight,” Martin said. “After they tied it, though, nobody was panicking. We were thinking about last week and how we were down 24-7 and we came to back win. It was tied up. So we knew we had a chance.”