They certainly made it a lot tougher on themselves than they had to.
But in the end, the Plantation Colonels did enough early on and then held on for dear life to outscore Hialeah 47-35 in a longer-than-three-hour marathon Region 4-7A quarterfinal Friday at Milander Stadium and set up a rematch with St. Thomas Aquinas next Friday.
The Colonels blew the doors off the T-Breds, scoring four third-quarter touchdowns to open up a 41-20 lead heading to the fourth and perhaps started celebrating a little too early.
Led by quarterback Jaylon Tolbert, Hialeah turned on the jets in the fourth quarter.
The T-Breds stunned the Colonels (10-1) with a 64-yard touchdown pass from Tolbert to Fredrick Eaford, orally committed to the Miami Hurricanes’ Class of 2021, with 9:34 left to make it 41-28 and then, after recovering a fumble at midfield, cut the lead to six when Tolbert, on fourth-and-goal from the 20, found D’Shawn Trowers in the end zone with 5:21 left.
With no timeouts left, Hialeah (7-4) tried an unsuccessful onside kick. Plantation then took over at midfield and went old-school wing attack with an assortment of trap plays to running backs Shahiem Taylor and Carlinton Armstrong to march their way down the field, and bleed most of the clock.
They could’ve taken knees in the final seconds, but chose to keep pounding the ball until Taylor went over from 3 yards out with 35 seconds left to wrap things up.
“Yeah, that was a lot more than we bargained for for sure,” Plantation coach Steve Davis said. “You’ve got to give Hialeah all the credit. They’re a very good team, and they just kept after us and never gave up. Fortunately we did a great job of eating up those last five minutes.”
After Hialeah took a 13-12 lead to the locker room at halftime, the game exploded with four touchdowns in a span of two minutes of the third quarter.
After the Colonels took the lead on a 3-yard run by Taylor and two-point conversion, Hialeah’s Jai-Ayviauynn Celestine returned the ensuing kickoff 81 yards for a score. On Plantation’s first play after the kickoff, quarterback Jerard Nesbitt found Jacoby George, another Miami commit in the Class of 2021 commit, wide open for a 64-yard score.
Two plays into the next drive, Hialeah fumbled at its own 30 and on the very next play, Nesbitt found running back Amari Jones all alone for a touchdown to make it 35-20 after a successful two pointer.
“It was all about just coming out and taking care of our business tonight,” George said. “We kind of let them back in the game, but they’re a good team, as well, so it didn’t shock us that they came back. Now it’s on to next week.”
Ah, yes, next week. With a team ranked No. 1 in the nation on deck, one that beat them 35-0 on Oct. 11, the Colonels and Davis have their work cut out for them.
“You have to go out there and play the game,” Davis said. “We will work hard during the week, get the kids ready and try and go out there and shock the world.”