The theme for the Deerfield Beach run at a Class 8A state football title is becoming clearer with each game.
Defense and running back Jaylan Knighton.
The combination was again successful as the Bucks defeated Palm Beach Central 21-6 in a Region 3-8A final at Deerfield Beach High on Friday.
Deerfield (12-1) will host Miami Columbus in a state semifinal game next Friday. The Bucks improved to 8-1 all-time in regional finals and the six points allowed was the fewest the team has allowed in eight previous regional semifinals.
Deerfield also improved to 11-5 all-time against Palm Beach County teams in regional playoff games.
Knighton finished the night with 130 yards on 23 carries and two touchdowns. The junior running back and Oklahoma commit now has 2,045 yards and 28 total touchdowns this season.
He helped seal the win with 55 yards on six consecutive carries late in the fourth quarter.
Defensively, senior linebacker Brandon Moses was everywhere with a fumble recovery, a 35-yard interception return and a sack.
“We hang out hat on the defense because we know defensive wins championships,” Deerfield coach Jevon Glenn said. “We’ve asked them to do more and they’ve been doing it.”
After the Broncos drove 70 yards that led to a Charles Stewart 5-yard touchdown run to cut the Bucks’ lead to 14-6, just past the halfway point of the third quarter, Deerfield would answer.
The Bucks drove 60 yards on six plays with Dashaun Davis hauling in a 26-yard pass from Derohn King for a touchdown for a 21-6 lead with 2:43 left in the third quarter.
Still the Bucks struggled to put the game away.
Deerfield Beach gave Palm Beach Central a brief glimpse of hope as the Broncos recovered a botched punt return at the Bucks 24. The defense held again.
Moses, who has been nursing a right ankle sprain during the playoffs, recorded a fumble recovery and interception set the pace early on in the first half. Both Broncos turnovers eventually led to Knighton touchdowns.
“We work hard all week and we executed,” Moses said. “Those turnovers got us going and the offense was able to get it flowing. There’s no stopping our defense right now.”
“Moses is a monster,” Knighton said. “He works hard everyday this is the result we get.”
Knighton’s first touchdown came on a 1-yard run with 7:46 left in the first quarter. That was followed with his second score of the night with an 8-yard run with 2:46 left in the half.
“Knighton is our guy,” Glenn said. “We run to set up the pass and Knighton is the best player in the state.”
The Deerfield front seven also added four more sacks giving them 14 in three playoff games this season. The Palm Beach Central offense never threatened in the first half, getting only as close as the Bucks 37.