It was a playoff matchup between two 9-1 teams, but the outcome proved South Dade and Southwest were not nearly that comparable.
South Dade, which earned its one-loss record against a much tougher schedule, proved it was the more battle-tested team and trounced Southwest 42-7 in a Region 4-8A quarterfinal Friday night at Tropical Park.
The Buccaneers (10-1) now get their shot at revenge against Killian, the team that handed them the lone blemish on their record and bumped them to District 16-8A runner-up in a 21-13 loss Oct. 26.
South Dade was also eliminated in last season’s playoffs by Killian after the Buccaneers had won the district.
“There’s a lot of revenge going in my mind right now. I just want to beat Killian,” said senior quarterback Khalil Render, who finished with four touchdowns and 270 yards on 12-of-22 passing. “I’ve been watching film on them since we played them last game.
“I left a lot of touchdowns [on the field] last time.”
Render said he blew kisses at his mother in the bleachers, who is currently battling breast cancer.
“It looked like she wanted to cry,” he said.
Render’s receivers constantly created separation against Southwest defensive backs that appeared to be stuck in quicksand in comparison.
Tyre Brady, who orally committed to UM by calling coach Al Golden earlier Friday, caught two touchdowns and finished with three catches for 60 yards
“I committed today, but I had to realize today is still a game day,” Brady said. “I had to focus up, get my mind right and set that aside.”
On top of his success through the air, Render also ran for a 5-yard score as part of his 61 yards on the ground on five carries. Running back Johnnie Hankins totaled 84 yards on 12 carries and added a 33-yard receiving touchdown on a short screen.
Southwest (9-2), which has made the playoffs each of the past three seasons, remains winless in postseason play in school history. The Eagles loss continues a trend of District 15 winners losing to District 16 runner-ups.
With a résumé that includes wins over Columbus, Carol City, Jackson, Homestead, Coral Reef and American, South Dade’s regular-season schedule undoubtedly prepared the Bucs for postseason competition.
“It keeps us focused all year,” South Dade coach Nate Hudson said. “We said all along that some of these nondistrict games will set us up for the playoffs.”
The Eagles’ one touchdown came in the second quarter when defensive lineman Gerald Payoute intercepted a screen pass and returned it 16 yards for a touchdown.
The Buccaneers defensive front, overmatching Southwest’s offensive line, was able to frustrate Southwest quarterback D’undre Pickett-White, rushing him into two interceptions, sacking him three times and flushing him out of the pocket on several other occasions.
Pickett-White finished 3 for 12 for 81 yards, 53 of them on a screen pass up the middle to Trevon Sands that led to a missed field goal.