Seeing his mother in the stands was all the motivation Khalil Render needed to lead South Dade.
Render, whose mother has been in and out of the hospital with breast cancer, completed 10 for 17 passes for 280 yards and three touchdowns — including two to receiver Tyre Brady in the fourth quarter — to lead the Buccaneers to a 34-21 victory over Homestead at Harris Field in the regular-season finale for both teams.
“I saw my mom in the stands, so I had to show out,” Render said. “I had to do it for her to make her smile.”
South Dade’s trio of Render, Brady and C.J. Worton fueled the Buccaneers offense with explosive plays, putting a bitter end to Homestead’s year and the careers of 16 seniors, including Florida wide receiver commitment Ermon Lane and Georgia wide receiver commitment Gilbert Johnson.
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After a quiet first quarter by both teams, South Dade got on the scoreboard first with a 53-yard touchdown pass from Render to Worton to begin the second quarter.
On the ensuing drive, Homestead tied the game with an 8-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Maurice Alexander to Johnson. Alexander’s 45-yard pass to Lane on the drive’s first play established prime field position for the Broncos.
But Brady, a University of Miami wide receiver prospect, helped the Buccaneers regain the lead, taking the ensuing kickoff back 95 yards for a touchdown.
“It was the battle of athletes,” said Brady, whose two catches were for touchdowns. “They had athletes and we had athletes, and it all goes down out here to see which athletes are best. And we showed that [Friday night] out here.”
Homestead was hampered throughout the contest by penalties (13 for 90 yards) and Alexander’s inability to throw the ball away on broken plays. South Dade senior defensive lineman/linebacker Tyree Horton had three sacks for losses of 15 yards or more in the fourth quarter alone.
Alexander finished 18 for 29 for 208 yards, while Lane finished with four receptions for 80 yards and a 20-yard carry, and Johnson finished with five catches for 43 yards.
The Broncos, who suffered District 16-6A losses to Miami Central, Carol City and Norland, played through Lane’s possible season-ending suspension for throwing a punch at a Palmetto player on Oct. 10, and first-year coach Larry Coffey dealing with the ailing health of his father to end the season.
As for District 16-8A champion South Dade, its playoff journey begins next Friday at Tropical Field against regional opponent Southwest, the winner of District 15-8A that lost its first game of the season Thursday to Coral Gables.