High School Sports

Everglades outlasts Taravella to reach flag football state semifinals

It turned out the promise of overtime was just an illusion.

Things were all tied up Friday morning during the opening game of the flag football state championship at Gene Cox Stadium until Alyssa Jones hauled in a 5-yard touchdown reception with 12 seconds left in the game to help Everglades defeat Taravella 13-7 and move on to Saturday’s semifinals.

In fact, the Gators didn’t even get on the scoreboard until the 3:53 mark of the fourth quarter.

It was a stubborn Trojan defense that led Everglades coach Steve Bounoutas to make an adjustment on offense, and it paid off.

After coming out and running the read-option through the first three quarters, the Gators decided to go pass-heavy in the fourth quarter.

“They obviously keyed in on us and did a great job stopping the run,” Bounoutas said.

“They made us adjust to being more aggressive throwing the ball, and my quarterback and receivers found ways to make plays when it counted.”

Everglades quarterback Nicole Lennie led the offensive surge in the fourth, throwing for 157 yards and two touchdowns.

But her receivers were doing the dirty work, leaving the ground to compete for contested balls and coming down with some beautiful grabs.

After trailing for three quarters, it was wide receiver Karima Harris who pulled in a catch on a little hook route and took it 18 yards for the touchdown.

Jones led all receivers with 61 yards on four receptions, including the winning touchdown, and Bricelis Jiminez was a constant for the Gators with five catches for 47 yards.

“I was scared,” Jones said about the game-winning pass coming her way.

“But I knew I could do it. I knew my team needed me, and I didn’t even think about dropping the ball — that wasn’t even an option. I knew I had to catch the ball, and that’s what I did.”

The Trojans were stellar on defense through the first three quarters, but it wasn’t enough. Keresa Biggs had two interceptions — one of which she took 25 yards for a touchdown — and Tronaye Jones had one.