With his team clinging to a four-point lead and less than five minutes remaining, Gavin Anderson lined up on Cypress Bay’s punt coverage team and began racing downfield.
His only thought: Don’t let Miramar’s elusive return man Eric Pittman score. Pittman did get loose, but Anderson never gave up on the play.
The 6-1, 170-pound junior safety came through with what turned out to be the game-saving tackle in Cypress Bay’s thrilling 17-13 come-from-behind victory on Miramar’s home field Friday night.
If not for Anderson’s hustle, Pittman would have capped a spectacular 70-yard punt return by running backward into the end zone from the 10.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
But what Pittman didn’t see was that Anderson had circled all the way back downfield and was running right at him from the side.
“I saw him turn around and start to slow down, so I said I got a chance to make a play,” said Anderson, who ran all the way down to the Patriots’ 30-yard line, where Pittman caught the ball before turning around and chasing him back up field as he zig-zagged toward the end zone and left most of Cypress Bay’s punt coverage team on its back.
“I was like, ‘He messed up. He just threw the game away for his team.’ I just hit him with all my might.”
Pittman came crashing to the turf at the 5-yard line. So did the Patriots’ hopes.
Miramar (2-3, 1-1 in district play) went backward from there.
A holding penalty, a snap over the head of quarterback Nick Jeanty that lost more than 20 yards and an incompletion all preceded back-to-back interceptions. Cypress Bay safety Alex Montgomery grabbed the first one.
Linebacker Keyon Auguste grabbed the second as Cypress Bay (4-1, 2-0) held on for its first win over Miramar since the regular season of 2008.
“I just love to see them keep fighting to the end and not giving up,” said Cypress Bay coach Mark Guandolo, whose team forced four turnovers in all and held Miramar to 169 yards of total offense.
“It was a humid night, guys were cramping up. We had a lot of guys play both ways. We’ve been talking about being tough. I just didn’t think we’ve been tough, mentally, physically, the last year or two. It was great to see us come together and show the toughness and tough one out. That’s what we did.”
Cypress Bay took advantage of a first-quarter fumble by Miramar to take a 3-0 lead on Jonathan Semeren’s 46-yard field goal.
Miramar responded with a 15-yard scoring strike from Jeanty to receiver Sean Avant early in the second quarter and took a 6-3 lead into halftime.