Never mind the fact that they squandered three scoring chances or that they couldn’t convert a single extra point.
North Miami had more than enough offensive firepower and a talented shutdown defense to make easy work of American as the Pioneers cruised to a 24-7 victory over the Patriots on Thursday night in a key District 13-8A contest at Ives Estates Park.
The win moved North Miami’s record to 3-2 overall but 2-0 in the district and with two very winnable district games in the coming weeks against Hialeah Gardens and Krop, a potential district showdown with Hialeah on Oct. 26 looms. American fell to 1-4, 0-2.
“We’re really excited about things,” said North Miami head coach Pato Colon.
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“We were a little concerned about coming off a bye week that we might be a little rusty and out of rhythm tonight but even though we shot ourselves in the foot a few times and squandered a few scoring chances, overall I’m really happy with what I saw out there.”
What Colon saw was a balanced offense that racked up 188 yards through the air and 287 on the ground. He watched his ninth grade quarterback Deon Parker play like a senior, completing 11-of-20 passes for 188 yards with one touchdown passing and one rushing.
He watched running back Rayjae Grant run over, around and through the American defense to the tune of 173 yards on 25 carries.
And he watched his defense hold the Patriots to minus 21 yards on the ground which included four sacks of American quarterback Katravis Marsh who was harassed and hurried all night long throwing two interceptions, one by Elijah Deravil, the other by Augustin Lorfils Jr.
“Really? Wow, I’m not even that tired,” quipped Grant when told how much he had rushed for and how many times he had carried the ball. “I think I could go out there and get a few more.”
The Pioneers took an early lead on a short quarterback keeper by Parker and never looked back. Parker tossed a 26 yard touchdown pass to Deonta “Megatron” Nairn midway through the second to put his team up 12-0 at the break.
Only lost scoring chances by North Miami, two in the first half when Parker missed a wide open Nairn for a touchdown and a Nairn 22-yard touchdown run from the wildcat formation was wiped out by a penalty, kept the game from getting out of hand.
And when Grant fumbled on the American one ruining a long opening second half drive, the look on Colon’s face was of clear frustration.
But his defense came through time and again. And the seven points American put up was only because of Parker’s one mistake on the night. That when he threw a pass in the left flat that Patriot cornerback Donché Robinson telegraphed perfectly and picked it off taking it 50 yards for a score.
That made it 18-7 and there was still over 10 minutes left in the game, giving American a little life.
But North Miami then responded with an eight-play, 80-yard drive, with Shawn Guerrier scoring from 27 yards out with 5:53 left to seal the win.
“We preach all the time, bend don’t break,” said North Miami linebacker Amari McCray who, despite only being a sophomore, already has offers from Southern Miss, FAU and UAB. “We call it our 11/60. Eleven guys to the ball for 60 minutes and that’s what we did out there tonight. We’re undefeated in the district and plan to keep it that way.”