Willie Thomas made up for his first-half mistake with a pivotal touchdown in the third quarter.
Thomas hauled in a 49-yard touchdown pass from Kelvin Durham to help lift the No. 1-ranked unbeaten South Dade Buccaneers to a 23-10 win over the winless Southridge Spartans.
“We’re the number 1 team in 8A and everybody wants to beat that number 1 team so we’ve got to stay on top,” Thomas said.
Thomas was sidelined for the remainder of the first half for an incident in the second quarter with Southridge’s Carl Kinchen, who also had to wait to return with South Dade (6-0) leading 14-10 at the break.
“I let the team down in the first half,” Thomas said.
Though atoned for his mistake when he caught the ball in the middle of the field and raced into the end zone for the score, stretching the lead to 20-10 midway through the third.
“All I saw was daylight and green,” Thomas said. “That’s all I love, green.”
Durham threw for 173 yards and two touchdowns, with the other to Trevon Sanders, and added 45 yards on the ground. Chezzy Mathews rushed for 85 yards and Freddie Bruce caught three passes for 71 yards for the Buccaneers.
Southridge (0-6) was led by Jaheim Jerry’s 129 yards on eight catches while Jaylin Willis passed for 215 yards and George Young added 71 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
South Dade sophomore Markey Mallery recorded his first interception to help prevent Southridge from any late-game heroics in the rivalry game, which had its fair share of personal foul calls on both sides.
“We didn’t play with the energy we normally play with and I thought we lost part of our identity,” South Dade head coach Nate Hudson said. “We tried to keep our composure, but we got caught up in a lot of trash talk.”
The personal foul penalties cost the Spartans heavily early in the game after Young flipped into the end zone for a 30-yard score, capping a nine-play, 80-yard drive. Another personal foul called on the play resulted in 30 yards of penalties on the ensuing kickoff. Then the kickoff went out of bounds and an offsides call put the kickoff at the 8, helping set up South Dade for a short drive.
“The penalties killed us,” Southridge interim head coach Arties Knight said. “I told the group that when we scored the first touchdown and (Young) flipped into the end zone, which I totally condone, that was changing the momentum of the game because we got two personal fouls and it set up their first touchdown.”
Durham found Sanders open in the end zone from 18 yards out as South Dade scored on the ensuing possession, tying the game at 7.
Mathews’s 3-yard touchdown run put South Dade up 14-7.
Kevin Butchers connected on a 32-yard field goal to cut the deficit to 14-10 late in the second quarter.
The Spartans were strong in the first half, but were unable to get on the scoreboard after the break.
“We had a couple dropped passes and once again the penalty bug reared its ugly head,” Knight said.
South Dade outgained Southridge 298-285 in total yards.
“We knew we were going to get their best shot,” Hudson said.
Southridge (0-6) 7 3 0 0 - 10
South Dade (6-0) 7 7 6 3 - 23
Southridge - Young 30 run (Butchers kick)
South Dade - Sanders 18 pass from Durham (Moreno kick)
South Dade - Mathews 3 run (Navia kick)
Southridge - Butchers 32 field goal
South Dade - Thomas 49 pass from Durham (pass failed)
South Dade - Navia 31 field goal
RUSHING: Southridge: Young 14-71, Willis 7-5, Ford 2--3, Jerry 1--3. South Dade: Mathews 16-85, Durham 7-45, Thomas 1-0.
PASSING: Southridge: Willis 18-27-1, 215, Jerry 0-1-0, 0. South Dade: Durham 9-19-0, 173.
RECEIVING: Southridge: Jerry 8-129, Evans 5-44, Collier-McCray 1-18, Young 2-16, Parrish 1-6, McCoo 1-2. South Dade: Bruce 3-71, Thomas 1-49, Ladaker 2-24, Sanders 2-20, Mathews 1-9.