High School Sports

Carol City shuts down Punta Gorda Charlotte to reach 6A title game

Carol City Chiefs prior to the 6A state semifinal against Punta Gorda Charlotte.
Carol City Chiefs prior to the 6A state semifinal against Punta Gorda Charlotte. For the Miami Herald

One week after traveling north and beating down the top ranked 6A team in the state (Daytona Beach Mainland) in decisive fashion, the Chiefs of Miami Carol City took their traveling road show to the west coast of Florida on Friday night to take on another undefeated team and delivered more of the same.

Looking for its first berth in a state championship game since 2003, Carol City handed out a dose to another out-of-town team of what Miami-Dade County football is all about. The Chiefs blew out to a 33-0 halftime lead, ultimately delivering a 39-0 beat-down of Punta Gorda Charlotte in a Class 6A state semifinal before a standing-room-only crowd lined along the fences at Charlotte High School.

The Chiefs (9-3) advance to next week’s 6A title game where they will square off against Lakeland Lake Gibson on Saturday, Dec. 10, at 3 p.m. at Camping World Stadium in Orlando. Carol City will be looking to notch its fifth state title in program history and first since 2003. Charlotte finished 12-1.

Carol City head football coach Aubrey Hill talks about the victory over Punta Gorda Charlotte on Fri., Dec. 2, 2016.

“Just a great job of the kids coming in here again tonight just like last week into a hostile environment and getting out to an early lead to take the crowd out of the game and we just went from there,” said Carol City head coach Aubrey Hill. “We punched our ticket tonight. What an exciting opportunity we have in front of us next week and something that we talked about all the way back to last summer. To win another state title would just be tremendous for this program.”

Just like against Mainland a week ago, Hill watched the Chiefs jump all over their opponent early taking a big crowd out of the game.

Carol City drove 73 yards in just seven plays on its opening possession, Camron Davis going the final 8 yards from the wildcat formation for a 7-0 lead.

After the defense recorded a second straight three-and-out, the Carol City offense came through again on its second possession. On third-and-14 from midfield, Terrence Horne Jr. took a flanker sweep outside and skirted the sidelines for a 49-yard score to make it 14-0 with 3:49 left in the first.

“Coming out and getting that early lead was big for us,” said Carol City quarterback Marlon Smith who had a big night, completing 14-of-23 passes for 259 yards in just barely over one half of work as he came out midway through the third quarter. “It was all about making a statement and establishing our superiority. I only had a big night because my O-line was out there getting it done up front as they do every week”

Thanks to four sacks of Charlotte quarterback Dee Hicks, the Carol City defense held the Tarpons to minus 12 yards of offense in the first half, Charlotte never getting past its own 38 yard line.

Carol City quarterback Marlon Smith talks about the win over Punta Gorda Charlotte on Fri., Dec. 2, 2016.

“The coaches did a great job of preparing us for tonight and we just wanted to go out there and shut our opponent down like we try and do every week,” said linebacker Terry Straughter who had two of the four sacks. “We’ll enjoy this for a little while, maybe on the ride home but then it’s back to business and take care of one more game next week. We’ve come too far now and we want to finish it off next week.”

Carol City then put the game away in the second quarter. First when Naytron Culpepper took off on what would have been a 50-yard punt return for a score. But when Culpepper fumbled, Gregory Grate was in the right place at the right time, scooping up the loose ball and going the final five yards for a score to make it 20-0.

But the Chiefs saved their best for last just before halftime when, leading 26-0 and with just 10 seconds left, quarterback Marlon Smith, who had a big night completing 14-of-23 passes for 259 yards, dropped back and heaved a long pass into the wind. The ball was way underthrown but Horne went up with Charlotte DB Andrew Grace and literally ripped the ball from Grace’s grasp and trotted into the end zone with three seconds left.

Davis leaped over from the one yard line midway through the third quarter for his second touchdown of the night that got the running clock going.

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