American Heritage running back Kyshaun Bryan played with a chip on his shoulder and said the defending Class 5A state champions had a lot to prove against Island Coast on Friday night at Heritage Field.
Heritage did just that, dismantling the Gators 56-8 and advancing to the next round of the state playoffs. It will face Orlando Bishop Moore at home next Friday night.
Early in the week, Island Coast coach Wayne Davis provided bulletin board material for American Heritage, saying that the defending 5A state champions were not as good running the ball without Sony Michel and Isaiah McKenzie, who both graduated and are now playing at Georgia.
The Patriots (10-3) responded by running for 211 yards and scoring four times on the ground. Three running backs scored for the Patriots.
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“When he said that it just made us all work harder as a team, and we used it as motivation,” Bryan said. “Every week it seems as though we have to prove ourselves all over again.”
Patriots coach Mike Rumph agreed.
“We really controlled the line of scrimmage and opened some holes,” he said. “We just handled our business, and everyone did their job. The backs ran real well, and we were able to do a lot of different things on offense.”
Bryan led American Heritage with 122 yards on eight carries.
“I wish that the offensive line could get credit for the yards. They are the ones that opened up the holes,” Bryan said. “They should get all the credit.”
The Patriots also played tenacious defense. They caused four turnovers and scored two defensive touchdowns. Their special teams also blocked two punts.
Tavares McFadden picked off a third-quarter pass from reserve quarterback Maurice Flournoy and returned it 41 yards for the score. On the ensuing drive, Tyler Gordon fell on a loose ball in the end zone for the second defensive score in less than two minutes.
“The defense played very well. They wanted to come out and make a statement,” Rumph said. “They attacked the ball carrier and put good pressure on the quarterback.”
Heritage held the Gators (10-4) to 197 yards of total offense, 85 of which came on their lone touchdown.
Torrence Gibson got Heritage on the board early, throwing a 77-yard pass to Dredrick Snelson on the second play of the game to give the Patriots a 7-0 lead.
On the next drive, Bryan scored on a 40-yard run to give Heritage a 14-0 lead. The drive was kept alive by two Gibson runs on third-down plays.
Gibson was taken out of the game in the third quarter after he was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct for yelling at an official. He finished the game only 3 of 8 for 104 yards and a touchdown. He also threw an interception. Gibson also rushed for 44 yards on five carries.
ISLAND COAST 8
AH - Snelson 77 yard pass from Gibson (Milstein kick)
AH - Bryan 40 yard run (Milstein kick)
AH - Bryan 3 yard run (Milstein kick)
AH - Lowery 2 yard run (Milstein kick)
IC - Murphy 85 yard pass from Curtis (Flournoy run)
AH - McFadden 42 yard INT return (Milstein kick)
AH - Gordon fell on fumble in end zone (Milstein kick)
AH - Pough 27 yard pass from Brown (Milstein kick)
Rushing (att-yds) -- IC: Jenkins 3-2, Washington 1-8, Murphy 1-12, Flournoy 4-17, Lambert 16-63. AH: Lowery 3-15, Jackson 6-30, Gibson 5-44, Bryan 8-122.
Passing (comp-att-int, yds)-- IC: Flournoy 1-4-1, 4, Curtis 5-15-0, 105. AH: Brown 2-4-0, 35, Gibson 3-8-1, 104.
Receiving (rec-yds-TD) -- IC: Washington 1-1, Guymon 1-4, Jenkins 1-6, Pulley 1-6, Murphy 2-99. AHP: Eubanks 1-7, Jackson 1-8, Kazdan 1-19, Pough 1-28, Snelson 1-77.