Jordan Johnson exemplified the quickness that Bishop Moore worried about on Friday.
Exhibit A: Jordan Johnson. He ran for 175 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries Friday, and American Heritage dethroned state champion Bishop Moore 20-7 in a Region 4-5A final.
American Heritage (12-0) plays host to Tampa Jesuit, which beat Immokalee 56-29 next Friday in a 5A state semifinal. Bishop Moore ends its title defense at 11-2.
Friday’s game matched up the two teams that have won the last three Class 5A championships. But the Patriots, who won in 2013 and 2014, appeared stronger.
“They’re a really good team,” Hedrick said. “We’ve played really good teams this year. We had our opportunities. We didn’t play our best football tonight, and when you don’t do that at this level, it’s tough to win.”
The Patriots imposed their will on defending state champ Bishop Moore in the first half. Johnson had 135 yards in the first half, including touchdowns of 3 and 1 yards that put American Heritage up 20-0.
“They played close, but the offensive line blocked down, and the holes were huge,” Johnson said.
Jason Brown also kept the Hornets honest with an 18-yard touchdown pass to Dontavius Butler. He threw for 101 of his 134 yards in the first half. He completed 10 of 14 passes.
Brown’s running also gave Bishop Moore problems. He also ran for 44 yards, most of them in the second half as the Patriots chewed up the clock.
“We noticed they were playing a lot of short cover-4, so we were trying to get the short passing game going early,” Brown said. “Once they adjusted to that, we had the running game.”
Bishop Moore struggled to solve American Heritage’s speed on defense. The Hornets turned to misdirection in the second quarter, but Michael Hicks picked off two passes in the second quarter. Hicks’ last pickoff came after Will Allen tipped the pass away from a Bishop Moore receiver in the back of the end zone, and Hicks caught it.
“We wanted to do our job and stop the running game,” Hicks said. “They have a great running game, so that’s what we had to stop.”
Heritage held Bishop Moore to 84 rushing yards.
The Hornets had more success moving the ball in the second half, but they could not penetrate the end zone until late in the game. The defending champs’ best chance came early in the fourth quarter, when the Hornets had first and 10 at the American Heritage 20. But facing fourth-and-2 at the Patriots 12, Heritage’s Brandon Mincey recovered a fumble on an errant pitch.
Connor Scheitzach completed 2 of 6 passes for 29 yards for the Hornets, who also got 27 yards rushing from C.J. McNeal. The Patriots held leading rusher Trilion Coles to 25 yards on 10 carries. His last carry was a 19-yard touchdown run with 3:19 left in the game.
The Hornets also slowed down the Patriots by bringing pressure from the outside. They held American Heritage without a point in the second half behind an interception by Charlie Rask and sacks by Jason Taylor and Donovan Winter.
American Heritage also committed 14 penalties for 136 yards leading coach Pat Surtain lit into his team in his postgame gathering, challenging them to remove the mistakes.
“We have to cut down on penalties,” Brown said.