With its hands firmly on the steering wheel of the District 13-8A title, North Miami nearly drove the car into a ditch as it trailed a fired-up Hialeah team 21-18 with just over one quarter of football left.
But thanks to the arm of quarterback Hilton Joseph and hands of receiver Tavaris Harrison, North Miami rallied for three unanswered touchdowns to pull away and defeat the upset-minded T-Breds at Traz Powell Stadium.
The Pioneers improved to 6-1 and 3-0 in district and can wrap up their second district title in a row with a win over Ronald Reagan this week. Hialeah, going through its roughest season in years, fell to 1-6 and 1-2.
“I don’t know, maybe it was this strange starting time on a Saturday afternoon, but we definitely came out flat,” North Miami coach Ed Williams said. “But there was never any panic. We were in close, tight games earlier this season and managed to come out on top, so the kids did a good job of never losing their poise.”
Joseph wound up having a huge day, completing 17 of 26 passes for 310 yards and five touchdowns, four of those going to Harrison, his favorite receiver. The two hooked up for scoring passes of 11 and 39 yards in the first half and then, with the outcome still in doubt, twice in the fourth quarter from 33 and 20 yards.
Williams watched in disbelief as his team, after taking an early 6-0 lead, botched a pair of consecutive punts that led to Hialeah touchdowns to fall behind 13-6. After NM battled back to take an 18-13 lead, Joseph made his only mistake of the day when Hialeah linebacker Jean Bazille stepped in front of a crossing pattern, picked him off and rambled 55 yards for a score 40 seconds before halftime, giving the T-Breds a 21-18 halftime lead.
Still trailing late in the third quarter, Joseph took advantage of a short field after a Hialeah punt and drove his team 44 yards in five plays, hitting Elliot Taylor for a 17-yard score to give the Pioneers the lead for good.