Daniel Richardson broke away from the celebration with his teammates moments after the Tornadoes beat St. Thomas Aquinas on Friday night.
Richardson got down on one knee by himself in the end zone and put his face down in his arms.
Booker T. Washington’s sophomore quarterback took a minute to exhale after throwing four touchdown passes in a grueling 27-23 victory over St. Thomas that lasted more than three hours, including a 40-minute lightning delay.
“We knew [Aquinas] was good, but we kept preaching to each other that we’re better,” Richardson said. “People didn’t think we could be No. 1, but we came in [Friday night] and proved it.”
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The Tornadoes (1-0), ranked No. 6 nationally by USA Today, took down their second nationally ranked foe in as many weeks following a thrilling goal-line stand that sparked some debate over whether top-ranked Aquinas (0-1) should have taken the lead in the closing seconds.
“I feel like we had a great game plan this week,” Booker T. coach Tim “Ice” Harris said. “Coming off playing the No. 6 team and then coming back to beat the No. 1 team it just says a lot about this program and that we’re not afraid to go out and play the best teams.”
Harris, who is beginning his third stint as Booker T.’s coach since 2002, won his 100th career game.
The victory will undoubtedly move Booker T. closer to the top spot in the polls.
Just how close won’t be known until next week as Las Vegas powerhouse Bishop Gorman, which plays Aquinas on Sept. 30 and entered the week ranked No. 2, has been voted mythical national champions two consecutive seasons by USA Today. Gorman faced Texas powerhouse Cedar Hill on Saturday night.
“This sets up for our ultimate goal to be the No. 1 team in the country,” Harris said. “We set up a schedule where all of our non-district opponents are nationally ranked because we knew it was the only way to get where we want to go.”
Aquinas quarterback Jake Allen drove the Raiders down the field in the final minute and completed a slant pass to Trevon Grimes, who was tackled near the goal line. The referees ruled Grimes had not broken the plane of the goal line before his knee hit the ground, but the play set up first-and-goal from the 1-yard line.
With no timeouts left, Aquinas chose to put the ball in the air on the next play.
But when Allen dropped back, Booker T. blitzed up the middle and rushed the throw, allowing Dedrick Mackey to make a leaping interception in the end zone with 23.9 seconds left.
Mackey’s interception was Aquinas’ fifth turnover of the game.
Guy Thomas recovered two fumbles for the Tornadoes.
“I knew [Grimes] hadn’t crossed the goal line on the play before,” Mackey said. “Those guys did the job up front.”
With Aquinas leading 23-21, Richard Dames intercepted a pass by Allen to set Booker T. up with the ball deep in Aquinas territory.
Booker T. capitalized with 2:26 left in the fourth on Richardson’s 18-yard touchdown pass to Sherod Johnson — the second of their two touchdown connections.
Following the go-ahead touchdown pass, the game went into a lightning delay that lasted roughly 40 minutes.
“We achieved our goal, but we have to keep grinding and stay on top,” Mackey said.
▪ Late Friday — Southwest 70, Coral Park 0: Te’Corey Tutson and Andre Stringfield scored four touchdowns each as the Eagles demolished the Rams at Tropical Park.
Senior quarterback JJ Jaramillo threw three touchdown passes, a 14-yarder to Tutson, a 10-yard score to Derek Gonzalez and a 39-yard catch-and-run to Tutson.
Tutson also scored on a 61-yard punt return and a 2-yard run. Stringfield scored on runs of 81, 32 and 2 yards and a free-kick return of 52 yards. The free kick followed a safety when Eagles senior linebacker Conner Jervis tackled a Rams ballcarrier in his own end zone.
Junior Donavan Edouard returned a fumble 18 yards for a touchdown.
▪ Late Friday — Cardinal Gibbons 49, Plantation 0: The host Chiefs ran out to a 35-0 halftime lead and rolled to an easy victory in coach Matt Dubuc’s debut as coach.
Debuc, a 1992 Gibbons graduate, replaced current athletic director Mike Morrill after last season.
Quarterback Nik Scalzo completed 24 passes for 203 yards with four touchdowns for Gibbons. Backup quarterback Austin Boyle came in and completed all eight passes he threw for 120 yards and two touchdowns.