Miami-Dade High Schools

Immokalee ends Jackson’s dream run in Class 5A state football semifinal

They say all good things must come to an end.

For the Miami Jackson football team, it probably would have preferred if its fairy-tale run through the Class 5A playoffs would’ve lasted a little bit longer, though.

After an inspirational expedition through the first three rounds, which included three road wins, the dream postseason for the Generals came to its conclusion Friday night.

With a chance to reach the state championship game for the first time in the school’s long history, Jackson dropped the semifinal game to Immokalee 29-21 in front of about 8,000 fans at Traz Powell Stadium.

Jackson quarterback Quinton Flowers lofted a desperation heave about 40 yards to the end zone on the Generals’ final drive with under a minute left, but Immokalee junior and FSU commit Xavier Richardson intercepted it to preserve the eight-point lead and the victory.

Down by as many as 15 twice, Jackson responded both times with touchdowns to bounce back into the game. Flowers capped an eight-play, 80-yard drive by threading the needle to hit Bennie Powell on a 10-yard slant in the end zone to get the game back to within a single possession with 5:39 to play. He also snuck in a 1-yard score on the previous Jackson drive, that included a 45-yard pass to Terrance Rutherford and a 25-yard Flowers scramble to keep the drive alive on third down.

Flowers finished 11 of 24 passing for 186 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. He added 118 yards rushing and another score on the ground.

Immokalee’s D’Ernest Johnson carried 25 times for 113 yards and scored three Indian touchdowns.

He and quarterback Tshumbi Johnson led a ground attack that pounded the Jackson defense all night. Tshumbi finished with 119 yards on 22 rushes.

Immokalee coach Jerrod Ackley expressed his appreciation for the Generals’ resiliency and the way they battled all night.

“Those kids fought their tails off till the very end,’’ Ackley said. “There were a few times where we had the momentum and they came fighting back.”

One of those times where Immokalee gained the momentum was the beginning of the second half. Jackson started with the ball in a 7-7 game, but Immokalee’s Mackenro Alexander took an interception the other way for a touchdown, the Indian defense got another stop, and then D’Ernest Johnson scored one of his three touchdowns all within a five-minute stretch to make it a 15-point game.

The Generals (8-5) had an admirable run to advance to the state semifinal.

First they took down Class 5A favorite Plantation American Heritage 39-23, then they beat the champion in their own district, Miami Norland, 30-21, and finally beat Belle Glade Glades Central 33-24, in a hostile road environment.

Jackson coach Antonio Brown expressed optimism toward the future.

“That’s the ending of a game, but I think that’s the beginning of a dynasty,” Brown said. “That’s the first building block.’’

He has reason to feel confident moving forward with Flowers coming back for his senior season

“We lost a football game. We didn’t lose a life,” Brown added.

Immokalee advances to face Tallahassee Godby (13-3) in the state championship game in Orlando’s Citrus Bowl at 1:07 p.m. Friday.

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