The Buccaneers overcame a 15-point halftime deficit to defeat American at Harris Field.
Buccaneers quarterback Kahlil Render, who entered the game in the second quarter, helped spark the comeback, completing 14 of 18 passes for 247 yards and two touchdowns in the comeback victory.
“We’ve been in these situations, and we’ve sort of become immune to it,” Buccaneers coach Nathaniel Hudson said. “This was our opportunity to come out of our shell and hopefully a sign of things to come.”
Four first half turnovers, including a 41-yard fumble returned by Patriots cornerback Jeremiah Dinson, stunted South Dade’s early rhythm and allowed American to jump out to a 35-20 lead at halftime.
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But after Render hit wide open receiver Tyre’ Brady for a 62-yard passing score on the first South Dade play of the second half to slice into the American lead, the Buccaneers defense shut down American and didn’t allow a single point in the second half.
South Dade running back Johnnie Hankins, after picking up a running touchdown late in the third quarter to cut the deficit down to two points, rushed 12 yards into the end zone to cap off the game-winning, 84-yard drive with 6:45 remaining in the game. The defense took care of the rest, stopping two potential go-ahead drives by the Patriots in the final minutes of the game.