Coming off a district loss to Southridge that put defending Class 8A state champion South Dade in a compromised position to make the playoffs, the Bucs, as they always have been under coach Nate Hudson, proved resilient once again.
Resilient not only in bouncing back from the demoralizing loss to defeat Jackson 14-7 at Harris Field on Friday night, but in responding from a game-tying touchdown with a minute to play to drive down and score one of their own in the waning moments.
P.J. Coats, a 6-2, 225-pound quarterback, carried multiple Jackson defenders with him as he ran in the game-winning 10-yard touchdown with four seconds to play.
On the previous play, Coats scrambled left and was hit late out of bounds and was rammed into the fence that stands close to the field of play at Harris. After being motionless on the ground for about 15 seconds, he got up as if nothing happened and ran it straight through the teeth of the Jackson defense to win it for South Dade (5-2, 1-1 District 16-8A).
“It hurt when I hit the fence, but pain is temporary and I had to do what I had to do there,” said Coats, who also completed three passes on the final drive, and finished with 67 rushing yards and 69 passing yards in the defensive struggle.
Added Hudson, who was feeling ill since 9 a.m. Friday: “Incredible. Really, he’s been doing it all year. He’s been a big catalyst, especially when we need him inside the red zone because he is a big body.”
Jackson (2-3, 0-1 District 16-5A) tied the non-district game at 7 when Desmond Phillips hit Terrance Rutherford in the back of the end zone for a 6-yard touchdown with a minute left after South Dade had led since early in the first quarter.
Phillips salvaged the drive earlier, escaping from a 4th-down sack to run for 32 yards and a first down. Jackson originally set up for a two-point conversion but an illegal procedure pushed the Generals back and they settled for the extra point.
Two personal foul penalties by Jackson aided the Bucs in their ensuing trek down the field.
South Dade continued its streak of winning after a loss. The Bucs have not lost back-to-back games in Hudson’s tenure as head coach.
“These guys took pride in it,” Hudson said. “It was a challenge this week coming off the loss. I always talk about ‘Bring your own luck’ and some of the little things that you have to do to get results.”
South Dade started fast Friday, marching down the field on the opening drive. Running back Tre’ven Worthen stormed through the right side of his offensive line for a 26-yard touchdown. He ran five times for 54 yards on the first half’s lone scoring drive and finished with 87 yards on the ground.
The Bucs then defended their own goal line late in the first half. Facing third-and-goal from the 2-yard line, they stuffed the Generals on back-to-back quarterback sneaks.
Sloppy snapping marred the scoreless first half for Jackson, which had three shotgun snaps go over Phillips’ head, including one that set the Generals back on a drive that started inside the South Dade 25 after a 50-yard punt return from Tovias Parker.
Phillips threw for 99 yards on 10-of-20 passing and ran for 70 yards.
South Dade now gets a bye before facing defending district champ Killian on Oct. 24, a game which could propel the Bucs back into the playoff picture.
“It’s obviously going to be the biggest game this year,” Hudson said. “To get this, I think it’s a big win going in.”
SOUTH DADE 14,
SD- Worthen 26 run (Sanchez kick)
JAC- Rutherford 6 pass from Phillips (Urquiza kick)
SD- Coats 10 run (Sanchez kick)
Rushing (att-yds) -- JAC: Hadley 1-(-2), Rutherford 1-0, Robinson 4-6, Miller 9-16, Barnes 2-18, Phillips 12-70. SD: Hankins 11-55, Coats 13-67, Worthen 12-87.
Passing (comp-att-int, yds)-- JAC: Phillips 10-20-0, 99. SD: Coats 9-15-2, 69.
Receiving (rec-yds-TD) -- JAC: Johnson 2-8, Cribbs 2-14, Hadley 4-31, Rutherford 2-46. SD: Mills 1-4, Jean 1-7, Hankins 4-28, Wiggins 3-30.