Miramar coach Damon Cogdell had that worried look on his face before Friday night’s Class 8A Region 4 final against Palm Beach Gardens.
“You can’t afford to take the cheese at this point, hopefully we’ll be all right tonight,” he said before the game.
Two-and-a-half hours later, Cogdell proved to be right. The stunned look on his players’ faces as they trudged off the field said it all.
The previously unbeaten Patriots, coming off a 37-point thrashing of Deerfield Beach a week earlier and ranked as high as No.15 nationally, will not win a second state championship.
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Palm Beach Gardens took care of that in stunning fashion with a 12-10 upset at Palm Beach Gardens High School and will move on to the Class 8A state semifinal next week and take on either South Dade or Coral Gables.
“I was worried about taking the cheese, and we sure enough took it,” Cogdell said, referring to a team that takes an opponent too lightly. “Too many turnovers and penalties and you simply can’t win playoff games this deep when you do that. Forget about their four losses, they don’t mean anything. Everyone is undefeated in the postseason, and Gardens just came out here and outplayed us [Friday] and deserved to win and move on.”
Miramar (12-1) was plagued by penalties (14 for 118) — especially at key moments — and three lost fumbles.
But Miramar still had a chance to win when, with 5:09 left, Gardens (9-4) made its only mistake of the night as Jimaine Page mishandled a bouncing Miramar punt and Herbert Miller recovered for the Pats at the Gardens 25.
But when three plays netted only 8 yards, kicker David Campbell came out for a 35-yard field-goal attempt into the wind that went wide left with 3:57 left.
Gardens, thanks to a pounding running attack led by Tommy Monday’s 123 yards on 41 carries, ran out the remainder of the clock but only after the Patriots committed a face-mask penalty on third down to keep the drive going and, after stopping them again and burning timeouts, ran into the punter with 26 seconds left to end the game.
“We just didn’t make the plays when we needed to,” said Miramar running back Eric Pittman, who led his sturggling offense with 113 yards with 11 carries. “Our main goal was to be focused and play focused and we didn’t do that [Friday]. I can’t believe it’s over.”