South Dade kept coming up short against Norland’s aggressive defense Friday night.
But with the defense keeping them in it, the Bucs knew they needed one play to go their way.
And it did with 3:05 left in the fourth quarter when a pass from South Dade quarterback Ludovic Saintvil bounced off the hand of a Norland defensive back and into the waiting hands of Darnell Durham, who raced 39 yards for the eventual game-winning touchdown and a 7-6 victory over Norland at Harris Field.
The Vikings (2-1) had one last gasp driving deep into South Dade territory in the final minute. But South Dade senior James Wiggins snared an interception in his own end zone to seal the outcome with 35 seconds left.
“This is what we expected and my hat goes off to our defense,” South Dade coach Nate Hudson said. “We showed great resilience. We knew this was going to be a tough game and I told them we have to protect our house.”
South Dade (2-0) trailed 6-0 for most of the game after Norland took that early edge on a 9-yard touchdown run by Chavis Wright. The score was set up by Bryon Brown’s interception on the Bucs’ first drive. Kicker Kevon O’Conner missed the extra point, however.
Following Durham’s late touchdown, South Dade kicker Mark Sanchez, who missed a field-goal attempt on the previous drive, converted the point-after try and put South Dade ahead.
South Dade’s go-ahead score was set up by a fumble that was recovered by defensive tackle Rakeem Terry with less than four minutes left. That followed what appeared to be a promising offensive series for South Dade that was stifled by a tackle for loss by Emmett Rice and a missed field goal.
“We grew up a lot [Friday] especially after giving up 24 points in that first game and then not being able to play last week,” Hudson said. “We have some young guys, but that’s no excuse. This was big for our defense and a building block for those guys.”
Norland scored what would have been a potential winning touchdown with 43 seconds left in the fourth quarter when quarterback Rodrick Robinson lobbed a pass on target to Jordan Robinson for an apparent 37-yard score. But a penalty for an ineligible receiver downfield nullified the score. Wiggins intercepted Robinson two plays later.
Norland was penalized 15 times for 90 yards. South Dade was penalized 10 times for 80 yards.
Both teams were effective for the most part running the ball. Jawon Hamilton led the Bucs with 97 yards on 20 carries and Wright finished with 70 yards on 19 carries for Norland.
“I think we were able to dominate the game mostly in the second half and we stayed our course,” Hudson said. “It was about composure on our offensive line. Norland is a big physical team and we just had to stay with it.”
NOR-Wright 9 run (kick failed)
SD-Durham 39 pass from Saintvil (Sanchez kick)
Rushing (att-yds) -- NOR: Roberts 2-(-6), Evans 5-8, Robinson 10-21, Wright 19-70. SD: Smith 4-(-6), Saintvil 8-8, Hamilton 20-97.
Passing (comp-att-int, yds)-- NOR: Robinson 6-19-1, 127. SD: Saintvil 5-14-1, 117.
Receiving (rec-yds-TD) -- NOR: Jones 1-10, Scott 1-14, Robinson 1-14, Roberts 1-15, Wright 1-29, Gallimore 1-45. SD: Hamilton 1-0, Smith 1-18, Laguerre 1-40, Durham 2-59.