History was on the side of the St. Thomas Aquinas football well before their kickoff against Doral Academy.
Aquinas has owned teams from Miami-Dade in the playoffs since the first meeting in 1980.
As Doral learned in its Class 7A regional final, St. Thomas will pound its opponent given the opportunity. Friday was much the same as Aquinas defeated the Firebirds 48-6 at Brian Piccolo Stadium.
It was the 18th consecutive playoff victory for St. Thomas over the past four seasons.
The Raiders (11-2) will travel to play Venice (12-1) in a state semifinal game next Friday. St. Thomas is one victory shy of playing for its fourth consecutive state 7A championship.
Venice defeated Tampa Bay Tech 48-17 to advance. Aquinas defeated Venice in last year’s state semi 48-6.
“Our focus this week was to play a complete game in all three phases of the game,” St. Thomas Aquinas coach Roger Harriott said. “This was a nice win.
“We’ll enjoy this win and start preparing for Venice Saturday morning.”
Aquinas improved to 14-4 all-time in playoff games against Miami-Dade. Over the past four years the Raiders have outscored their opponents south of the border 215-20.
The Raiders also improved to 20-4 all-time in the third round of the playoffs.
Junior running back Daniel Carter rushed for a pair of first half touchdowns to help build an insurmountable lead.
Doral must have figured it was in for a long night. On their first play from scrimmage, the ball was snapped low and went through the end zone for an Aquinas safety.
The Firebirds (10-3) took a 3-2 lead, following a Nicolas Polo 33-yard field goal just before the end of the first quarter.
“St. Thomas shows you when you work hard all spring and summer you get this result,” Doral Academy coach Jay Stewart said. “This is where we want to be some day. That’s what we’re striving for.”
Everyone got into the scoring act for the Raiders thereafter.
Tavares Kelly had a 38-yard punt return for a touchdown, defensive lineman Coleman Crozier had a 4-yard fumble return for a touchdown and Elijah Moore caught a 47-yard scoring pass from quarterback Derek Wingo.
“My punt return made a great impact because coach tells us special team plays can me a difference,” Kelly said. “I’m looking forward to going up to play Venice.”
Carter led the Raiders with 53 rushing yards on 11 carries, while the defense held Doral to minus 8 yards on 20 carries.
While the Raiders defense forced four turnovers (3 fumbles and one interception), they also held the Firebirds to 188 yards of total offense.
STA – Safety, Ball snapped out of endzone
DA – Polo 33 FG
STA – Moore 47 pass from Wingo (McCourt kick)
STA – Kelly 38 punt return (McCourt kick)
DA – Polo 32 FG
STA – Carter 6 run (Carter run)
STA – C. Crozier 4 fumble return (McCourt kick)
STA – Carter 3 run (McCourt kick)
STA – White 2 run (McConnell kick)
STA – McConnell 25 FG