Palm Beach Gardens Dwyer coach Jack Daniels said Blanche Ely was the scariest offensive team his squad was facing since it played Miami Central in the preseason classic loss.
But his offensive line put those fears to rest, paving massive holes to the tune of 339 rushing yards as the host Panthers battered Ely 49-7 in the Region 4-7A semifinals on Friday night.
The Panthers (12-0) will host St. Thomas Aquinas next Friday night in the regional final. Two years ago, the two powerful programs met in the regional final. Dwyer beat St. Thomas 6-3.
“We know the challenge ahead of us. The road to the state championship always goes through St. Thomas,” Daniels said. “We’re looking forward to the challenge.”
The Panthers set the tone on the first drive. Although they didn’t score in large part because of a bad snap, they marched down the field with ease behind the offensive line that carved holes for Alonzo Smith, who finished with 25 carries for 228 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
“With our receivers, they gave us a two-high safety look and put five in the box,” Daniels said. “If we can’t run the ball against that, we’re having problems. Alonzo was coming off an injury. I am just really happy for him. They took away the pass. We had to run the ball.”
Dwyer scored on its next three possessions, first on a 28-yard touchdown run by Smith. Then Daniel Parr hit Shawann Lurry for a 10-yard touchdown pass. Smith scored again to make it 21-0 going into the half.
Ely (6-6) had no answer for the Dwyer running game, but shoddy tackling contributed to the Tigers’ problems. Smith was able to bounce off tackle after tackle. He left the game after setting up Gerald Hearns’ 2-yard touchdown run three minutes into the third for a 28-0 lead.