South Dade isn’t earning many style points these days.
It is earning hard-fought victories.
For the second consecutive week, the Bucs traveled north to Traz Powell Stadium and won a close game against one of Miami-Dade’s better teams.
On Thursday night, South Dade overcame four turnovers with a dominant rushing performance that led it to a 23-14 win against American.
The Bucs (2-1), the defending Class 8A state champions, followed up an overtime win against Carol City with a 261-yard rushing output that took down the improved Patriots (1-1).
“Our goal this week was to be consistent since we’re a young team,” South Dade coach Nate Hudson said. “The primary thing for this team was to maintain its focus.”
Leading 16-14 with three minutes remaining, South Dade needed its defense to come up with a big play.
Senior Doyle Grimes delivered, recovering a fourth-down fumble by American on a fullback dive play and rumbling 72 yards for a touchdown.
The game had four lead changes culminating with senior quarterback P.J. Coats’ touchdown. South Dade’s defense also recorded a safety, and senior Jerry Joseph blocked a punt on special teams.
Senior Darius Rolle recovered a fumble and had an interception to lead American’s defense. But the Patriots were unable to score any points off South Dade’s turnovers.
“I like our mental toughness,” Hudson said. “Our perseverance has shown, especially being down at times. We still have some growing up to do, though, and we have to take care of the ball.”
Instead, it was the Bucs who continuously put together solid drives led by junior Tre’Ven Worthen’s 127 yards on 20 carries. Senior Johnnie Hankins also finished with 82 yards on seven carries and scored a touchdown.
And once again Coats proved how valuable his tough running ability helps South Dade’s offense.
Coats scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 10-yard scamper in the fourth quarter and finished with 52 yards on 11 carries.
“I’m extremely proud of our guys, especially our offensive line,” Hudson said. “We’re going to continue to grow together and get better.”