First the rain started. Then, the stadium lights turned off.
Then once the game started, the rain continued and the lights shut off again.
Despite a driving rainstorm and an hour’s worth of delays with the new lights at freshly renovated and renamed Orange Bowl Field at Harris Field Park, South Dade took care of business in Friday night’s season opener with a 26-18 victory over Coral Gables.
The Bucs, ranked 12th in the Miami Herald’s Top 20 poll, forced five turnovers, blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown, and led 26-6 before the Cavaliers, ranked 15th, mounted a late rally to make it interesting.
After Gables scored on a two-yard touchdown run by Te’Corey Tutson with 6:51 to play to trim South Dade’s lead to 26-12, the Bucs offense went three-and-out on back-to-back possessions without taking much time off the clock.
After University of Miami recruit and senior Gilbert Frierson scored on a 38-yard touchdown pass from Gerald Williams with 2:49 remaining to make it a one score game, Gables got the ball back deep in its own territory with under a minute to play. But Bucs senior safety Jamal Anderson, a Tulane commitment, saved the day when he intercepted Williams at the South Dade eight-yard line.
It was Anderson’s second pick of the game.
Senior Dervon Marius put the Bucs ahead 6-0 with 5:17 left in the opening quarter when he scooped and scored on the blocked punt.
Moments later, sophomore defensive lineman Terrell Battle recovered a Gables fumble at the Cavs 42-yard line. Senior tailback Tyler Zimero then scored on a 15-yard run to make it 12-0.
Gables answered with a 58-yard touchdown pass from Gerald Williams to Te’Corey Tutson to make it 12-6. But it was the only time the Cavs offense really shined.
After Bucs backup quarterack Fralon Warren capped a first half drive with a 22-yard touchdown pass to junior Najeh Baker to make it 18-6, South Dade drove right down the field on the opening possession of the second half with freshman starting quarterback Torey Morrison back under center.
Morrison connected with senior tight end Chris Carter, a University of South Florida commitment, on fourth-and-goal for a nine-yard touchdown pass. Junior tailback Demetrius Randolph then converted the two-point conversion to make 26-6.