Booker T. Washington has won its fourth game Thursday.
The Tornadoes have also lost four games.
It has been a while since the Tornadoes played a season as topsy-turvy as this one has been so far.
Through it all, Booker T. hasn’t stopped being resilient.
“We mentioned to the kids how important this game was because no matter what it would put us in shape to clinch a trip to the state playoffs for the 14th consecutive year,” Booker T. coach Earl Tillman said. “It was a tough one last week losing to Northwestern. Our character has been tested in quite a few games, but these kids have fought hard.”
With its starting quarterback, freshman Daniel Richardson, forced to leave the game right before halftime, the Tornadoes picked up the slack and turned a close game against Gulliver into a 45-20 rout at Traz Powell Stadium that put the Tornadoes within one win of clinching a 14th consecutive district title.
Booker T. (4-4, 2-0 in District 8-4A), which had its 41-game overall winning streak snapped at the start of the season, extended its district winning streak to 49 games. That stretch began in 2001.
Richardson, who completed 13 of 19 passes for 184 yards and threw three touchdown passes in the first half, left the game in the second quarter. He then collapsed on the sideline and, according to numerous bystanders on the sideline, suffered a seizure that prompted a call to paramedics.
Richardson was responsive moments later, put on a stretcher by paramedics and said to be ready to be transported to nearby Jackson Memorial Hospital. But after being attended to for nearly half an hour in the ambulance that was parked on the stadium’s track, Richardson emerged feeling better and sat on the Booker T. sideline for the remainder of the game.
“Daniel is doing better, thank God,” Tillman said. “He’s a tough kid, and our leader on offense. Those kids were playing for him in that second half.”
Senior quarterback Eric Walker commanded the offense effectively, throwing for 118 yards on 7-of-14 attempts in Richardson’s absence. Walker ran for a 2-yard touchdown late in the fourth to cap the game’s scoring.
But it was the Tornadoes’ defense that helped shut out Gulliver in the second half.
Booker T.’s secondary recorded three interceptions.
Marquis Decius had two to lead the effort, and linebacker Marlon Pelote had the other. Pelote also returned a fumble 16 yards for a touchdown in the first half that gave Booker T. the lead for good at 21-14.
The Tornadoes also blocked a punt in the third quarter that Richard Dames recovered in the end zone to extend the lead to 35-20.
While Richardson was in the game, he connected with Gustavious Dames for two touchdowns. Dames finished with six catches for 104 yards.
Gulliver (3-4, 3-1) can still clinch a playoff berth if Booker T. defeats Edison in its final district game in two weeks, or a spot in a three-way district tiebreaker should Edison pull off an upset.
Junior running back Robert Burns, a University of Miami commitment, led the Raiders with 119 yards on 15 carries that included a 70-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. Cedrick Wright had an interception that set up the first of two touchdown passes from quarterback Osky Serbin to C.J. Hassan.