With two seconds left on the clock in the championship game of the ninth-annual Miami Dolphins Academy 7-on-7 high school football tournament, the pressure fell on Carol City quarterback Lorenzo Floyd’s shoulders.
The rising sophomore had just thrown back-to-back incompletions against Northwestern, his team one touchdown away from victory with one play to make it happen.
And on that final pass attempt, Floyd found running back Nayquan Wright in the left corner of the endzone to seal Carol City’s 35-31 win inside the Dolphins’ indoor training facility in Davie on Sunday. It’s Carol City’s second straight Dolphins 7-on-7 championship and third title in four years.
“It never gets old winning this,” Carol City coach Aubrey Hill said.
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The Dolphins have hosted the 7-on-7 tournament every year since 2008.
Led by Twan Russell, the Dolphins’ senior director of community affairs and a Dolphins linebacker from 2000-02, the tournament has expanded from about 20 high school teams in its inaugural year to as many as 64 schools in some years. More than 1,000 high school athletes participated in the three-day event, which included a symposium on character-building Friday and preliminary games Saturday.
“It’s a reason I get to wake up in the morning and do what I get to do for the Dolphins,” said Russell, who added it takes about six months to plan and coordinate the event. “This one event, it’s the hardest event we do, but it’s also the most fulfilling event.”
Carol City and Northwestern won their four games at Plantation Central Park on Sunday to advance to the championship game of the 32-team single-elimination tournament. The final game was moved from the park to the Dolphins’ training facility after a prolonged weather delay.
Even with the delay and venue change, both teams started the title game hot.
Floyd and Northwestern quarterback Chatarius Atwell completed their first 15 passes, resulting in a pair of touchdowns drives for each team.
Carol City took a 28-17 lead in the second half before Northwestern rallied for back-to-back touchdowns and a four-point lead.
With 21 seconds left in regulation, the Chiefs turned to Floyd — the team’s presumptive starting quarterback following the graduation of Stephen Calvert — to make a big play.
He delivered with the quick pass to Wright, similar to the way Calvert led Carol City to the title in come-from-behind fashion at last year’s tournament.
“You see him growing up in front of your face,” Hill said of Floyd. “Sometimes, you see these guys as young kids, but this young man has grown up. It’s good to see.”
After the game ended, Russell went to both teams to give the players some parting words.
“Don’t forget what this game’s about,” Russell told the group of about 20 players from Carol City. “Everything good I ever learned in life is from football.”