Jacob Baptiste was bottled up in the first half, but annihilated a tired Key West defense for three consecutive touchdowns in McCarthy’s 49-20 Gold Coast Semifinal win.
Baptiste had 117 yards and three scores on 22 carries. His two second half scores put the feisty Conchs (8-3) away after the road team trailed by just seven points at halftime.
“We didn’t play good the first half, but we came out strong,” Baptiste said. “We expected a fight. They didn’t come way up here to lose again."
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The Mavericks beat the Conchs 39-0 on Oct. 28.
“We didn’t do a great job of anything in the first half,” said Mavericks coach Byron Walker, who earned win No. 301 Thursday. “I told the kids we were flat. We knew it in the locker room coming out. You beat somebody 39-0 the first time through, they have all the advantages and motivation and they played better.”
“We felt like in the locker room at halftime, if we could drive it down there and get seven, we could kind of turn things loose a little bit.”
Kevin Guelce’s 81-yard punt return put the Mavericks on top in the first quarter. Alvin Howard answered back with a 56-yard touchdown run for the Conchs. Quinn Dempsey hooked up with Logan Giordano on a 31-yard touchdown pass down the left flank in the second quarter, but Alonzo Ridgeway answered 20 seconds last with a 12-yard scoring run. Jacob Baptiste put the Mavericks ahead 21-14 on a 10-yard scamper before halftime.
Baptiste opened the third quarter with another score to give the Mavericks a 28-14 lead. His one-yard scamper distanced the Mavericks going into the fourth frame. Derek Burns added a 46-yard interception return for a score in the fourth quarter.
The Mavericks (9-2) battle North Broward Prep in the Gold Coast Final to defend its conference title.