One year was a long wait for coach Dameon Jones and his Hallandale football team, but the wait proved well worth it Saturday night.
A year after the Chargers suffered a devastating home loss to Dillard to knock them out of the playoffs, the Chargers traveled to Dillard and not only eliminated the Panthers from the playoffs, but also clinched a spot themselves with a 30-14 victory and ruined things for a large homecoming crowd.
“[Saturday night] was all about a little bit of redemption and payback,” said Jones, whose team remained unbeaten at 7-0, 3-0, and will be looking at a likely showdown with Boynton Beach for the District 15-6A title in two weeks. “To go 8-2 last year and have to watch the playoffs from the sideline was not a good feeling, and we were determined to come up here tonight and find a way to get it done, and we did.”
They did because of a terrific night out of quarterback Tyler Huntley who completed 15-of-21 passes for 247 yards and two touchdowns as the Chargers opened up a 21-7 halftime lead.
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But despite Huntley’s big offensive numbers along with running back Taj McGowan, who ran for 102 yards on 13 carries and a touchdown, the game’s biggest play of the night might have been turned in on defense.
With the Panthers having already cut the Hallandale lead to 21-14, Chargers punt returner Richie Cooper muffed a punt inside his own five and the Panthers recovered at the Hallandale three.
Dillard quarterback Jason Collins then snuck it right up the middle and appeared to be headed into the end zone when Hallandale linebacker Dana Levine reached in and somehow ripped the ball from Collins to come out of the pile with the ball.
The Chargers, thanks to two big plays — a 32-yard run by McGowan and a 45-yard pass from Huntley to Joshua Hammond — then drove 93 yards in seven plays, Huntley sneaking over from a yard out on the first play of the fourth quarter to make it 28-14.
Dillard dropped to 3-4 overall and 1-3 in the district.