South Plantation had seven players who played in five varsity football games when the season started. Now, all that separates the Paladins from a district championship is a win over Deerfield Beach next week after they shocked Monarch 19-13 at Deerfield Beach on Friday night.
Although Monarch ran 70 offensive plays to 36 offensive plays for the Paladins, South Plantation forced three second-half fumbles, two of which were returned for touchdowns and one halting a Knights drive in South Plantation territory in the fourth quarter.
Plain and simple, the Paladins (6-2, 5-1) were opportunistic even though they had only 120 yards of offense.
“I purposely put my athletes on defense. We don’t have enough kids on the team to put them on both sides. Other than the first game of the season, we haven’t given up more than 13 points in one game,” South Plantation coach Doug Gatewood said. “We’re small, but we get pressure and we’re fast and we give it everything we’ve got. I have 15 freshmen and sophomores on varsity. I never expected to be here.”
Never miss a local story.
On the other hand, the Knights (7-2, 4-2), which opened their season at 7-0, simply fell apart even though it amassed over 300 yards of offense. The Knights now need a lot of help to get into a tiebreaker for the runner-up spot.
“We usually don’t turn the ball over, but tonight turnovers killed us,” Monarch coach Calvin Davis said. “Give them credit. They came out and played a great game. They did what they needed to do to get the victory.”
Trailing 13-7, Monarch’s Calvin Ridley fumbled a swing pass. Mathew Hansen picked up the fumble and scored on a 10-yard return, tying the game at 13 with 6:24 in the third. Late in the third, Michael Harris was stripped and South Plantation’s Jean Cherilus picked up and went 67 yards for the game-winning touchdown.
Monarch drove down to the South Plantation 33-yard drive, but Harris fumbled again stalling the drive with 8:40 to play. After forcing a punt, Monarch took over at its 9-yard line and drove to the Paladins’ 24-yard line before turning the ball over on downs following an incomplete pass on fourth and two with 1:32 to play.
After both teams scored on their opening possessions, the offenses went stagnant. Monarch drove consistently only to see penalties or sacks kill drives. The Knights committed 13 penalties for 83 yards.
But the Knights took the lead into the break when Harris hit Shawn Burgess-Becker with a 46-yard touchdown pass with just over a minute to play in the first half for a 13-7 lead.