It was hardly a thing of beauty. As a matter of fact it was downright ugly at times for South Dade on Thursday night.
But, looking to recapture the magic that took them to a Class 8A state title four years ago, the Bucs found a way to grind their way to a 21-3 victory over North Miami in a Region 4-8A quarterfinal playoff game at Traz Powell Stadium.
South Dade, the No. 5 seed, advances to next week’s regional semifinal round and will either host No. 8 seed Homestead or travel to top-seeded Columbus next Friday night.
The Bucs took a 14-0 lead to the locker room at halftime and probably should’ve opened things up in the third quarter with two trips to the red zone including a first-and-goal at the one. But penalties and misplays, which plagued the offense all night, reared their ugly head again and the Bucs came away empty both times. South Dade finished with 16 penalties for 146 yards.
But, like it has most of the season, the Bucs defense came up big all night long, sacking North Miami quarterback Isaiah Velez six times for 53 yards in losses and limiting the high powered Pioneer passing attack to just 137 yards. That included some garbage time stuff on the final drive which saw North Miami kick a 35 yard field goal with 32 seconds left to ruin the shutout.
“The defense? They’ve been our most consistent unit all season long and showed it out there again tonight,” said South Dade head coach Nate Hudson. “We got a little sloppy on both sides of he ball. In fairness, we were really depleted with our O-line this week as we had four guys out and lost another one in the second half so we really had to fight our way through it but we’re definitely going to have to tighten some things up next week if we want to keep advancing.
Hudson watched his team finally put things away with just over six minutes left in the game and that came thanks to the defense. That’s when Keshawn Washington picked off a Velez pass at the Pioneer 15 and returned it 12 yards to the three. Three plays later, quarterback Torey Morrison, after tossing a pair of touchdown passes in the first half to stake his team to the 14 point halftime lead, tossed a third to Frank Ladson from seven yards out on third-and-goal to make ti 21-0 with 6:22 left.
“I read the pattern and got a great jump on the ball,” said Washington of his interception and who would’ve had a second on the next drive had it not beend wiped out by a penalty. “We just had to go out there and do our job tonight. Our offense, we know they’re good but they had some trouble finishing tonight but it was all good in the end.”
“We just come out every game and just go hard and try not to worry about anything else on the other side of the ball,” said defensive end Kervon Marius who had two of the six sacks. “No matter what we’ve always have got our offense’s back, no matter what kind of game it is, we’re always going to come through for them.”
After both teams battled evenly throughout most of the first quarter, the No. 5 seeded Bucs took a lead they would never lose when Morrison found University of South Florida commit Chris Carter for a seven yard scoring pass on the final play of the quarter.
The Bucs (9-1) added to their lead 4:43 before halftime when Morrison, on third-and-11, found Ladson over the middle in the end zone for a 15-yard score to complete a 10-play, 50 yard drive to make it 14-0 at the half.
North Miami, which was looking for its first postseason win since 1991, finished 6-4.
▪ Coral Springs Charter 2, Westminster Academy 0: Ireland Thigpen and Pietra Zolla 1 goal each; Kirbie Brownfield and Chrissy Tedesco; 1 assist each; Desiree Jenkins first shutout; CSC 1-0-1.
▪ Archbishop McCarthy 2, Western 1: Emily Welch 1 goal and 1 assist; Adriana Duque 1 goal; Nadia Colon 1 assist; AM 2-0.
▪ St. Thomas Aquinas 2, Boca Raton 0: Chloe O'Neill 1 goal, 1 assist; Shay Miedema 1 goal; Kailey Homoky 5 saves; STA 1-0.
▪ Miami Springs 5, MAST 0: Gabi Cimino 1 goal, 2 assists; Jasmine Romay and Sarah Schuster 1 goal 1 assist each; Ashley Romay and Angela Moon 1 goal each; MS 2-0.
▪ Riviera Prep 8, Archbishop Carroll 0: Sabrina del Rosal and Samantha del Rosal 3 goals each; Carla Nunez 2 goals; Patriza Mariano, Valentina Ruiz, Carla Nunez, Adriana Ball Schnell 1 assist each.
▪ Preseason - South Dade 4, Westland Hialeah 1: Luis "Chino" Carrera 1 goal, 1 assist; Elijah Cheng, Rogelio "Roy" Rodriguez and Ulmar Soto 1 goal each; Ricardo Herrera 1 assist.
▪ Preseason - American Heritage 1, Columbus 0: Ryan McGowan game-winning goal; Nigel Muirhead assist; Ralph Montero shutout.
▪ Preseason - Palmer Trinity 5, Coral Park 0: Nicolas Ludwig 2 goals; Jonathan Ludwig 1 goal, 1 assist; Robert Bistry and Alberto Franceschi 1 goal each.
▪ Preseason - Miami Beach 6, Mourning 0: Jose Almanza, Ethan Segocio, Leonardo Acosta, Franklin Rivero, William Garzon, Julian Enriquez 1 goal each.
▪ Preseason - Jackson 3, Ransom Everglades 0: Kevin Caballero 3 goals; Jossel Diaz shutout.
▪ Preseason – Miami Country Day 4, Coral Shores 0: Pablo Gutierrez two goals; Dre Medici and Remy Cross one goal each.
▪ Preseason - Doral 3, St. Thomas Aquinas 0: Andoni Garrogerricaechebarria 2 goals, Chris Ramirez 1 goal.
▪ Preseason - Doral 6, Varela 0: Andoni Garrogerricaechebarria 3 goals; Damian Casanova 2 goals; Chris Rodriguez 1 goal.