As one of the few experienced players returning from a state championship team, senior Faion Hicks knew how much would be expected from him this season.
With Flanagan’s starting and backup quarterbacks down with injuries, Hicks was tabbed to execute the most important play in Friday night’s pivotal district clash with Miramar.
Moments after senior Anthony Johnson scored on a 1-yard touchdown, Hicks rolled to his right and lobbed a ball over two Miramar defenders and into the waiting hands of senior Denzeil Alvis for two points and eventually an 8-7 Flanagan home victory.
“Two of our quarterbacks went down so we just had to go to the Wildcat,” Hicks said. “As a senior and as a leader, I had to make a play.”
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With quarterbacks Desjaun Kearse and cornerback/quarterback Stanford Samuels III out of the game with injuries sustained earlier in the game, Hicks lined up in shotgun formation for the two-point conversion with 23 seconds left.
Hicks appeared cornered by Miramar’s pressure, but just managed a “shot-put style” heave to Alvis in the corner of the end zone.
“I told him just shot-put it,” Flanagan coach Stanford Samuels Jr. said. “He told me ‘I just got to get it in the end zone.’ Those kids were resilient and they came up big.”
Flanagan (4-1, 3-0 in District 12-8A), the reigning Class 8A state champion, has won the district title each of the past two seasons.
Friday’s victory put the Falcons in prime position to win another one barring an upset.
But it took a major momentum shift in the final five minutes after Miramar (4-2, 2-1) dominated the majority of the game defensively to that point.
The teams combined for only 233 total yards in the defensive struggle, which began an hour and 15 minutes late because of inclement weather.
The Patriots scored their lone points late in the first half on a 5-yard touchdown run by Quino Mauricette that was set up by a 30-yard completion from Steve Williams to Anthony Needham.
It wasn’t until Flanagan forced a fumble on running back Ralph Hugh and junior Dyllan Lester recovered it and returned it to the Miramar 37 with 4:24 left that the Falcons finally put some points on the board.
Flanagan converted after four tries near the goal line when Johnson — out of the Wildcat — scored from 1 yard out.
Miramar’s final drive ended when two of Williams’ desperation passes missed the mark.
The Patriots could have extended their lead to 10-0 early in the fourth quarter after an errant snap on a Flanagan punt was recovered by Miramar at the 10 yard line. But after Miramar’s drive stalled, Devin Adams’ 27-yard field-goal attempt was blocked.
“Our defense carried us this game,” Hicks said. “It was an A-plus game by them. We came out with the win but we have to get better on offense. It was an ugly win, but we just have to get better.”