The Chamiande-Madonna Lions rebounded from an early turnover and held off a late rally from Booker T. Washington to win 35-28 Friday night at Curtis Park.
The Lions’ first drive ended with a fumble recovered by Booker T, but their costly mistake ended up being a non-issue as the Tornadoes went three-and-out.
It wasn’t until later in the quarter that the visiting Lions opened scoring with a punt return touchdown by junior Rony Bordeau. After Booker T failed to put together a scoring drive, Chaminade took over again. Running back Thaddius Franklin’s first rush on that drive led to a 47-yard touchdown, giving Chaminade-Madonna an early lead.
Booker T responded with a touchdown of its own early in the second quarter, and from then on, it was a dogfight. Chaminade maintained its lead throughout the game, ending the first half up by 14, although Booker T kept it close in the second half.
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The game came down to one fourth-and-ten play late in the fourth where the Tornadoes, a mere 20 yards from the endzone, simply could not convert. Tornadoes’ quarterback Torey Morrison struggled to complete deep throws throughout the game and often found himself pressured by the unrelenting Lions defense who forced him to throw an interception midway through the second quarter.
Meanwhile, Lions’ quarterback Dalen Nenard threw for 218 yards, three touchdowns, and zero interceptions.
“He’s poised. He leads this team,” Chaminade-Madonna coach Dameon Jones said. “He made some big plays for us tonight [and] that was the key [to our victory].”
Nenard was aided by a strong offensive line and a wide receiver core that included John Dunmore, a Penn State commit who brought in an 80-yard touchdown, and Elijah Canion, a junior who caught two touchdown passes for 110 yards.
Jones said his team has “a lot of stuff to work on and clean up,” but praised his defense for coming up with big stops when they needed it and forcing Booker T to try and convert some risky fourth downs. Jones took some of the blame for the close game, saying that the score was “closer than it had to be,” partly because he made some early substitutions on defense.
Penalties were possibly the worst part of the game for the Lions. Booker T’s final scoring drive was aided by two 15-yard penalties on the Lions’ defense for unsportsmanlike conduct and roughing the passer. That drive ended with a touchdown and made it a one-score game.
“Penalties killed us,” Jones said. “It ended with a prayer.”
Chaminade-Madonna next hosts Doral Academy on Thursday. Booker T. Washington faces Carol City at Traz Powell.