Hallandale quarterback Tyler Huntley put together one of the best single-game performances by a quarterback in Broward County history Friday night.
But it wasn’t enough to defeat the county’s most historic program.
Huntley threw for 468 yards and four touchdowns on 38 of 65 attempts, with his top target Joshua Hammond (14 catches for 222 yards).
Huntley’s final pass, however, was intercepted in the end zone by St. Thomas Aquinas cornerback Justin Wright as time expired to preserve a 36-28 Raiders victory at Hallandale’s home field. Aquinas outscored Hallandale 16-0 in the fourth quarter to erase a late eight-point deficit.
“When I saw the ball coming down I just knew I had to come down with it for my team,” Wright said. “Hallandale has a great team and Huntley is an amazing athlete. We had to stick to our fundamentals and just keep working.”
St. Thomas Aquinas (5-0), ranked No. 2 in the nation by multiple polls, faced its toughest test of the season so far in Hallandale (3-1), which entered the game ranked No. 1 in the state in Class 5A.
The Raiders rallied from an early 14-0 deficit and took their first lead of the game with 4:28 left when Trevon Grimes caught a slant over the middle from quarterback Jake Allen and raced to the end zone to give St. Thomas a 29-28 lead. Allen was sacked on the ensuing two-point conversion attempt.
Aquinas’ defense stopped Hallandale on its subsequent drive when Huntley was sacked after bobbling a low snap by senior linebacker Arjay Jean.
A few plays later, St. Thomas’ own game-changer, senior Jaxson Kincaide extended the lead when he broke through the middle for a 35-yard touchdown run. Kincaide finished with 147 yards on 20 carries and two touchdowns.
Huntley brought Hallandale down the field again trying to tie the score in the closing seconds. He ran for a first down on a 21-yard scamper that brought the ball to the Aquinas 35. But following two incomplete passes and a 6-yard completion, Huntley’s desperation heave to the end zone ended with Wright making the game-saving play.
“I knew our defense would hold it down so when I got my chance I took it,” Grimes said. “We knew it was going to be a dogfight and coaches told us to keep our heads high even when we fell down early.”
Hallandale extended its lead to 20-12 on its first drive of the second half when Huntley found Zach Moss on a 7-yard screen pass for a touchdown. The Chargers do not have a reliable kicking option, and failed on the two-point attempt.
Grimes made a couple of huge catches to tie the score on the next drive.
A leaping catch while facing one-on-one coverage on a deep pass from Allen allowed him to get behind the secondary and race 53 yards to the end zone. Aquinas went for two and Allen found Grimes again over the middle to tie the game at 20.
“All I knew was that I had to catch that ball,” Grimes said. “It was a blessing and I made my team proud.”
Allen had a good game himself, finishing with 244 yards on 13 of 25 attempts and two touchdown passes. Grimes finished with four catches for 122 yards and caught both touchdowns.
Muddy field conditions led to five Aquinas fumbles, two of which were recovered by Hallandale’s Leonard Gourine and Jaelyn Faulk, and three fumbles by the Chargers, one of which Aquinas’ Tyler Dunning recovered.
Aquinas was penalized 12 times for 112 yards and Hallandale had 14 penalties for 120 yards.
Wright said Aquinas, which faces another tough opponent next week at Deerfield Beach before its two district games and then a regular-season finale against Flanagan, will benefit from the adversity it overcame Friday and having faced a quarterback as versatile and prolific as Huntley.
“This helps us a lot because [Huntley] is a great quarterback and a great scrambler,” Wright said. “We stuck together as a family [Friday] and we came through.”
HAL-S. Huntley 11 pass from T. Huntley (pass failed)
HAL-Safety. Ball rolled out of end zone
HAL-Hammond 48 pass from T. Huntley (pass failed)
STA-Kincaide 4 run (Berry kick)
STA-Safety. Ball rolled out of end zone
STA-FG McCourt 49
HAL-Moss 7 pass from T. Huntley (run failed)
STA-Grimes 53 pass from Allen (Grimes pass from Allen)
HAL-Simpkins 3 pass from T. Huntley (Evans pass from T. Huntley)
STA-FG McCourt 40
STA-Grimes 36 pass from Allen (run failed)
STA-Kincaide 35 run (McCourt kick)
Rushing (att-yds) -- STA: Allen 2-(-28), Charles 1-2, Llewellyn 2-6, Bruce 4-14, Kincaide 20-147. HAL: Moss 7-5, Huntley 9-22.
Passing (comp-att-int, yds)-- STA: Allen 13-25-0, 244. HAL: Huntley 38-65-1, 468.
Receiving (rec-yds-TD) -- STA: Irvin 1-3, Thieman 1-23, Kincaide 2-48, Bruce 5-48, Grimes 4-122. HAL: Simpkins 4-24, Moss 6-68, Huntley 6-77, Cotto 8-79, Hammond 14-222.