ROCKLEDGE- The rematch South Florida football fans have been hoping for is officially on.
Cardinal Gibbons earned a rematch with American Heritage after notching their second straight road win of the postseason after fending off feisty Rockledge 19-14 on Friday night in their Class 5A regional semifinal contest.
"It’s going to be a heavyweight fight and it’s going to be a big crowd and it’s going to be a lot of people and we’re going to do what we have to do and they’re going to what they have to do and somebody’s going to make one more play than the other," said Chiefs head coach Matt DuBuc.
Setting up the much-anticipated clash was anything but easy for the Chiefs, however, as they had to overcome a deficit in both halves of play.
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Rockledge, perhaps viewed as an underdog despite their higher seeding, struck quickly to open the game with a long kickoff return setting up a 14-yard touchdown pass from as FSU commit Jashaun Corbin found fellow future Seminole Antoine Green to put the Raiders up 7-0.
Gibbons’ seeming talent advantage became more evident throughout the first half. It began to manifest itself on the scoreboard when Vincent Davis scampered in from four yards out to knot it at 7-7.
Still, the Chiefs couldn’t separate from Rockledge, though Cardinal Gibbons did take a 10-7 lead to conclude the first half as a late drive culminated with a 19-yard field goal from Griffin Cerra.
"This is the team that we’ve had all year. They’ve fought hard all year so I didn’t expect anything different," DuBuc said. "We probably played our worst half of football in the first half. Give them (the Raiders) credit. They’ve got a lot of talent. What they do, they do well. We didn’t really play our game tonight but we did enough (of) what we had to do in order to get the win."
The second half started out ominously for the Chiefs, as the Raiders retook the lead to begin the second half as Rockledge’s Cameron Latham intercepted a pass and returned it 43 yards for a touchdown which gave the Raiders a 14-10 advantage.
But as was customary throughout the evening, Cardinal Gibbons fought back with Davis’ second touchdown of the night, a 10-yard run, giving his team a lead they wouldn’t relinquish with a late Chiefs sack in the end zone helping to seal the victory.
Davis finished with 122 total yards on the evening, pacing a Chiefs offense that got contributions from a number of skill position players, including Tajae Davis (who ran for 60 yards) and Carlos Sandy (who hauled in 4 catches for 46 yards). Quarterback Nik Scalzo completed 10 of 16 passes for 87 yards while chipping in another 36 on the ground.
"I’ll take our crew. I trust them 100 percent. Our coaches, our players and obviously we’re super excited," DuBuc added.