The outcome of another Plantation American Heritage state championship game berth first appeared certain, then like it was all going to be thrown away with a colossal collapse and finally sealed when the clock hit triple zeroes.
After surrendering a 10-point fourth-quarter lead in two minutes, the Patriots drove down the field and set up an Oren Milstein 38-yard game-winning field goal with no time remaining for a 20-17 state semifinal win over previously unbeaten Orlando Bishop Moore at home on Friday night to get them back into the Class 5A state title game for the second year in a row.
“I felt it all building up and I just let it go,” Milstein said of his clutch kick. “There’s always nerves on any kick, but in the end, you just have to let it go because it’s the same kick.”
It brought the entire Patriots sideline rushing onto the field to celebrate.
“Just jubilation. Seeing my players so emotional — that’s what everybody comes out here for,” American Heritage coach Mike Rumph said .
Quarterback Torrance Gibson added: “Coach Rumph calls him ‘Million Dollar Legs’ because he’s clutch, and he comes through.”
It was a giant sigh of relief after Heritage led Bishop Moore (13-1) 17-7 and was driving before Rodney Taylor stripped Gibson on a rush attempt, taking the ball directly out of his hands and returning it 45 yards the other way for a touchdown.
The ensuing Hornets kickoff was a pooch kick toward the sideline that touched down and bounced back toward Bishop Moore for an onside recovery. It led to a field goal to tie the game at 17 with 5:07 remaining.
Rumph gets the Patriots (11-3) into the state championship game for a second time in his two years as coach at American Heritage.
“It’s very tough because you can’t sneak up on anyone, and everybody knows you’re coming,” Rumph sasaid. “The scary part about this game is we weren’t in a close game like this throughout the playoffs. To put us in the type of situation to come back and get it puts us in a good situation coming into this next game.”
Last season American Heritage won a convincing 66-8 rout against Green Cove Springs Clay in its trip to Orlando for the school’s first state championship. This time around, the Patriots will face Tallahassee Godby, which beat Live Oak Suwanee 48-14 in the other semifinal, at 1:07 p.m. on Friday at the Citrus Bowl.
This year the Patriots proved they can get back to the title game even without stars Sony Michel and Isaiah McKenzie — two standout freshmen now with the Georgia Bulldogs.
With his performance on Friday, sophomore running back Kyshaun Bryan might have had some Heritage fans asking “Sony who?”
Bryan went for 211 yards on his 31 carries — numbers Rumph called “unheralded” — to lead a Heritage rushing attack that was dominant.
Although Gibson, the Ohio State commit, struggled through the air against Bishop Moore's defense, completing just 2 of 9 passes for 15 yards, he made sure to pitch in on the ground. Gibson ran a pair of first-half touchdowns in — one from 18 and the other from 7 yards out and both on read options. He finished with 72 rushing yards.
On the final drive, which began from their own 30-yard line with about five minutes to play, the Patriots called no passing plays and stuck with the ground game. Twice on third downs, Bryan picked up the necessary yardage to keep the drive going and one other time it was Gibson with a key third-down conversion.
“It was woring throughout the day and the kids kept, ‘Stick with it,’” Rumph said.
AMER. HERITAGE 20,
BISHOP MOORE 17
BM- C. Tiralosi 23 pass from Hartmann (McIntyre kick)
AHP- Milstein 37 FG
AHP- Gibson 18 run (Milstein kick)
AHP- Gibson 7 run (Milstein kick)
BM- Taylor 45 fumble return (McIntyre kick)
BM- McIntyre 39 FG
AHP- Milstein 38 FG
Rushing (att-yds) -- BM: Hartmann 6-(-3), Tiralosi 5-10, Tiralosi 4-17, Page 2-18, Williams 10-33. AHP: Jackson 2-(-1), Lowery 1-0, Gibson 14-72, Bryan 31-211.
Passing (comp-att-int, yds)-- BM: Hartmann 4-11-1, 64. AHP: Gibson 2-9-0, 15.
Receiving (rec-yds-TD) -- BM: May 1-2, Tiralosi 2-29, Baety 1-33. AHP: Snelson 1-7, Eubanks 1-8.