Marcus Benjamin @_benjaminmoney
Orlando – Champagnat Catholic (Hialeah) avenges last year’s championship final defeat to University Christian (Jacksonville) with a 24-7 triumph in the 2A state championship game for their 2nd state title.
“We came up short last year, we got a chance to play the same team and we beat them this time,” said Miami Commit and two-way player Gregory Rousseau.
The Lions defense forced three turnovers on downs and seven sacks as they mauled University Christian with their ferocious defensive line that is loaded with players that we’ll see soon on the next level.
At the 6:34 mark in the 4th quarter Champagnat was able to drive to the Christian 24-yard line and were faced with a 4th and 1. Senior quarterback Desjaun Kearse on the QB keeper got to the outside for 20 yards and set up the Lions first and goal. Daryn Jones would convert a 26-yard field goal with five minutes left in the game to extend their lead 17-7.
“It was dive on the read option, the end bit and I just went around the corner,” said Flanagan transfer Kearse. “I came in here and transferred and I knew had to finish and that’s what we did.”
Kearse would pass for 214 yards and a touchdown and no interceptions to go along with 72 yards rushing. His receivers, Jahani Wright, Johnquai Lewis and Marc Britt all made big receptions of over 20 yards with Britt scoring on a 36 yarder with 2:11 remaining.
Senior quarterback for University Clayton Boyd, who started his third consecutive championship game, would make plays with his arm and his feet for the Fighting Christians as he has all season. He would drive his team down the field and take an early 7-0 lead with a touchdown pass to Jalen Dunnigan. Champagnat countered with a drive of their own that ended with Calvin Montgomery trotting to the corner of the endzone. PAT was missed but the Lions never looked back.
“[Boyd] was really making plays and making something out of nothing,” said Rousseau. “In the second half we just played more assignment football.”
He would break free for a 52-yard run in the 2nd quarter that would set up his team deep in Lions territory looking to add to to their slim 7-6 lead. Sophomore Jesus Machado would end the Christian drive with a tackle on 4 and 1 to force a turnover on downs from the seven yard line.
“The defense stepped up in the right moments,” said Head Coach Dennis Marroquin.
From the seven yard line the Lions would execute a 93 yard drive that would end with Donovan Georges muscling his way over the goal line for the Lions second score. Rousseau would convert a two point conversion with a catch in the end zone make score 14-7 with :37 before the half.
This is Champagnat Catholic’s first championship since 2013. University’s quest for a third straight championship and 10th overall came to an end Friday afternoon. The win would have tied St. Thomas with a total 10 championships which would be second in the state behind Bolles (Jacksonville).
“It’s great to win regardless if it’s 2-1 or whatever the score is,” said Coach Marroquin. “We got the W and that’s we want to do. It’s basically what we want to do every year, win a championship.”