Several of Booker T. Washington’s starters arrived at Traz Powell Stadium Friday night not knowing what it’s like to lose a high school football game.
They still don’t.
The Tornadoes, winners of three consecutive Class 4A state titles, needed every second on the clock to secure a 28-27 comeback victory over Citra North Marion.
Senior kicker Jose Borregales, who missed a field goal and an extra point earlier in the game, nailed a 44-yard field goal with less than three minutes left to give Booker T. its final lead.
North Marion drove the ball inside the 10-yard line and attempted its own game winning field goal with three seconds left.
Booker T. blocked the kick as time expired.
“We just told each other we need to keep driving, keep driving and keep driving,” said Booker T. junior defensive back Richard Dames, who had a key tackle for loss late in the fourth quarter. “This is huge for us as a team going into next week.”
Although a loss would not have counted since it was a preseason classic, Booker T. scored 10 points in the final five minutes of the game to avoid what would have been its first loss of any kind since 2012.
Next week, it does count.
Next week, Booker T. Washington officially puts its Miami-Dade County record 41-game winning streak on the line against St. Thomas Aquinas. The Raiders, an eight-time state champion, are ranked No. 5 nationally by USA Today and will be the favorites in the nationally-televised contest set for 8 p.m. next Friday at Aquinas.
But that’s next week.
This week, Booker T. reminded itself of the kind of effort it will need to beat some of the state’s best.
And that’s what North Marion is.
The Colts, under the tutelage of former Miami Northwestern coach Stephen Field, are considered as one of the state’s best in Class 5A this season.
And for 43 minutes, they gave Booker T. all it could handle.
North Marion intercepted Booker T. four times and recovered a fumble.
The Tornadoes persevered as freshman quarterback Daniel Richardson found Raymond Flanders for a 20-yard touchdown to cut the deficit to 27-25 with 4:54 left and start the comeback.
“I’ve been preaching to these kids all summer to play fast and compete and don’t worry about the scoreboard,” Booker T. coach Earl Tillman said. “Those last four or five minutes of the game it was all about competing.”