Dillard entered Friday’s road game against St. Thomas Aquinas with an unblemished record this season. The Panthers had not lost since falling in the playoffs in 2019.© Michael Laughlin/Sun Sentinel St. Thomas Aquinas quarterback Zion Turner is tackled by Dillard’s Jaylin Coleman during their game on Friday. Turner and the Raiders picked up a 23-13 win over the Panthers.
Hoping to keep that streak alive, Dillard lined up for a 24-yard, game-tying field goal with 3:29 left in the fourth quarter. The Panthers snapped the ball, but junior defensive back King Mack blocked the kick. Another junior defensive back, Conrad Hussey, grabbed the ball and took it about 90 yards to the end zone.
“I just saw the ball and I took off,” Hussey said.
Instead of Dillard tying the game late in the fourth quarter, St. Thomas took a 23-13 lead. An interception by Hussey on Dillard’s next drive made that the final score in front of a full stadium in Fort Lauderdale. The win sealed the District 14-7A title for St. Thomas.
“You want to play competitive games, especially when they’re local,” Raiders coach Roger Harriott said. “When I was here at St. Thomas in high school, our strongest foe was Dillard. It’s nice to see them playing extremely hard, and I know the coaches are going to do a good job of keeping their spirits up and getting them ready for the next game.”
Dillard came out strong to start the game. The Panthers drove down the field and scored on a 5-yard touchdown pass from Armani Norcius to Edward Louis.
“They came out firing, [since] this is the district championship,” St. Thomas Aquinas running back Anthony Hankerson said. “We just came back. ... We didn’t get down on ourselves at all. We came back and fought adversity.”
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When the Raiders got the ball back, sophomore cornerback Antione Jackson picked off a pass and put Dillard in strong position to take a two-touchdown lead. The Panthers got to the St. Thomas 18-yard line on that drive, but a botched snap, a delay-of-game penalty and a pass that got tipped back to Norcius for a loss pushed Dillard far from the line to gain.
St. Thomas took advantage of that missed Dillard opportunity, and the Raiders got on the board on the next drive. Hankerson punched in a 2-yard score to tie the game at seven. St. Thomas added two more points on a safety after a snap on a punt sailed past the punter and through the back of the end zone.
After a short Dillard punt late in the fourth quarter, Hankerson scored a second 2-yard touchdown to give St. Thomas a 16-7 lead shortly before halftime. Hankerson finished the game with 126 rushing yards on 23 carries.
“With the weather, I kind of knew it was going to be a little running game,“ Hankerson said. ”Just stick to the basic control. Keep the ball up, can’t allow no turnovers or nothing.”
The Panthers stayed in the game. Dillard made it a one-score game in the third quarter when Norcius hit Florida State commit Devaughn Mortimer for a 90-yard touchdown. Mortimer finished the game with 160 yards on five catches.
“He’s an exceptional player,” Harriott said. “He’s a playmaker, and when you have individuals like that, you’ve got to make sure you keep them in check.”
Dillard got the ball again with 10:54 left in the fourth quarter and made its way down the field. The Panthers drove for 15 plays and got inside the Raiders’ 10-yard line, but the St. Thomas defense kept them out of the end zone and set up what Dillard hoped would be the game-tying field goal.
Instead, the Raiders returned it for a touchdown and celebrated their seventh straight victory.
“This was an old-school, drag-out, tough football game that is great for our community,” Harriott said.
Source : https://www.msn.com/en-us/sports/more-sports/st-thomas-aquinas-seals-win-over-dillard-with-blocked-kick/ar-AAPQPRU1051