By Marcus Benjamin @_benjaminmoney
For the first time since 1978, the Eagles from Delray Beach will contend for a state championship. Henry Bryant III scored the go ahead touchdown with under a minute left to propel Atlantic over Miami High in Delray Beach 28-21.
“It’s been a long time,” said head coach Tavarius “TJ” Jackson. “I’m proud and I’m happy for the city. We prepared for this. The kids were prepared for it and I’m proud of them.”
Senior quarterback Antoine Williams fumbled the football over to Miami with just over four minutes left as the Stings looked to seal the victory and make history of their own clinging to a 21-20 lead. The Eagles defense would come up with a huge stop as they have all year forcing a turnover on downs in their own territory.
“Defense held up,” stated senior wide receiver Varrick “Oyeh” Lurry-Davis. “That’s the strongest part of this team.”
Williams would find Lurry-Davis on the ensuing drive on a diving 42-yard catch to keep their championship hopes alive for Delray Beach. Sophomore running back Bryant, who is a load at 280 pounds, pounded it three straight times to score his second touchdown of the game with under a minute to go.
Miami would sting the Eagles early jumping out to a 13-7 lead on a pick six by Devenson Cadet. The Stingarees drove inside the 10-yard line looking to go up two scores before halftime. Miami quarterback Isaias Castellon fired a bullet into the endzone only to hear the thud of the ball into senior defender and University of Florida commit Corey Gammage’s hands. Gammage would bolt out of the endzone and down the sideline to score a 101-yard interception return for a touchdown as time expired in the half to put Atlantic up 14-13.
“Corey’s been making big plays all year,” said Coach Jackson. “For the last two, three years he’s been making big plays and proud of what he did. That definitely was a big change for us and it got our kids back into the game. They fought back and did what they had to do.”
The Eagles would carry that momentum into the second half as Shelley Singletary would take the opening kickoff 70 yards for a touchdown to extend their lead 20-13.
Miami High would battle back as they have in these playoffs with a drive that would end with a Johnny Ford TD run. Castellon would run in the 2-point conversion to take the lead 21-20 at the end of the third quarter.
“We faced a lot of adversity each week,” said Coach Jackson. “The kids kept their heads in the game and never gave up. We have to just take it one day at a time and focus on what’s ahead of us.”
Atlantic has now won 12 in a row and will face Dr. Phillips (Orlando) for the 8A state title next Saturday at Camping World Stadium. A victory in Orlando would clinch the first state title for the school in its history.