Flanagan’s football team felt it took the first step toward becoming a contender by making the playoffs last season.
The Falcons took a major step Friday by rallying to beat rival Miramar 27-21 on their home field and clinching the school’s first-ever district championship.
“We’re on our way,’’ Flanagan coach Devin Bush said. “To come back and win a game like this is huge. We grew up a lot today. We’re here to stay.’’
Flanagan (8-0, 5-0 in district) scored 21 unanswered points and secured what is believed to be only its second-ever victory over Miramar (5-3, 3-1). The Falcons remain one of three undefeated Broward County teams entering the week. Miramar can still clinch the runner-up berth in the district assuming it wins its final two district games.
Running back Arkeem Granger’s 7-yard touchdown sweep with 24 seconds remaining capped the Falcons’ comeback. On Miramar’s final possession, safety Devin Gil sealed the outcome with an interception of quarterback Demari Simpkins’ desperation pass.
“I love these boys, man, I feel like this is our year and we’re going to state,’’ Granger said. “[On that touchdown run], I just blacked out and went beast mode and ran.’’
Granger scored two fourth quarter touchdowns and also ran in a two-point conversion following the go-ahead score.
It was better production than Flanagan had running the ball for most of the first three quarters.
Senior quarterback Ryan Stanley also struggled against Miramar’s defense throwing two costly interceptions to Patriots middle linebacker Deshondre Pitts.
The first came on the final play of the first half as Pitts read the throw and took off 90 yards down the sideline to put Miramar ahead 14-6.
On Flanagan’s first series of the second half, Stanley threw a pass right to Pitts again. The turnover set up Miramar’s next score, a 9-yard touchdown run by Travante Franklin.
A 35-yard punt return by Jahvari Bordeau energized Flanagan and gave it the ball at Miramar’s 5-yard line. Moments later Stanley took in a quarterback sneak from a yard out.
Miramar fumbled the ensuing kickoff, giving Flanagan the ball at the Patriots 45. Stanley led a touchdown drive, hooking up with Robert Foy for 40 yards and setting up Granger’s first touchdown to cut the deficit to 21-19.
Stanley completed 20 of 27 passes for 227 yards.
“I was so happy for Ryan,’’ Bush said. “He could have gone into a shell and not come out after that first half. Instead he came back fighting.’’
Flanagan’s defense held Miramar on two subsequent drives, eventually setting up the winning score.
Following the game neither side lined up to shake hands as is customary and both teams’ players were kept away from each other by their coaching staffs as words were exchanged.
The teams could potentially meet in the second round of the playoffs.
"This was a tough game and Miramar is very talented," Bush said. "We can’t afford to have a thousand penalties. Flanagan is here to stay.’’
FL-Foy 17 pass from Stanley (kick failed)
MIR-Purlett 30 pass from Simpkins (Campbell kick)
MIR-Pitts 90 interception return (Campbell kick)
MIR-Franklin 9 run (Campbell kick)
FL-Stanley 1 run (kick failed)
FL-Granger 4 run (Parodi kick)
FL-Granger 7 run (Granger run)
Rushing (att-yds) -- MIR: Bruno 1-(-2), Durante 1-1, Simpkins 4-4, McRae 6-30, Anderson 5-34, Franklin 13-43. FLA: Mitchell 1-(-10), Francis 3-9, Stanley 12-29, Granger 7-30.
Passing (comp-att-int, yds)-- MIR: Simpkins 4-13-1, 52. FLA: Stanley 20-27-2, 227.
Receiving (rec-yds-TD) -- MIR: Miller 1-(-5), Lewis 2-27, Purlett 1-30. FLA: Francis 2-13, Collins 1-13, Spence 5-43, Foy 2-57, Mitchell 10-101.