Seminole Ridge falls to Weston-Cypress Bay, ending state title hopes
Friday, November 30, 2012
by Matt Porter
Seminole Ridge's seniors trudged through the final stretch of a season-ending lap around the field, some arm in arm, some heaving with sobs. Their younger teammates waited at the goal with their coaches, helmets raised in salute.
Parents and fans stood at the edge of the track, some with tears in their eyes, all clapping. The band was there, too. A couple of college recruiters waited to talk to the Hawks' seniors.
Their opponent, Weston-Cypress Bay, had already packed up and left. Along with the elation from a 31-14 win, Lightning (11-2) players carried the right to call themselves Class 8A regional champions and a date with Miami-Christopher Columbus in the state semifinals.
Seminole Ridge (8-3) lost the first week of its season to flooding from Tropical Storm Isaac, then its first two games. It charged to the regional finals with a senior-heavy defense and its trademark running game, but got no further.
"In life you have ups and downs," Hawks coach Matt Dickmann said. "We rallied and ran off eight wins. We were going good until halftime."
Cypress Bay reeled off 31 straight points, reversing a game the Hawks dominated. Despite defensive pressure on Cypress Bay's offense and two first-half touchdowns from senior Silas Spearman (165 total yards), the Hawks committed too many second half mistakes against a team that is making its second state trip in three seasons.
"We panicked," Lightning coach Mark Guandolo said of his team's first half, in which its rushing attack gained just 13 yards and it scored just a field goal. "We had that deer-in-headlights look."
The Lightning found its blocking, springing senior Matt Dayes for two second-half touchdowns. He finished with 15 carries for 63 yards.
Seminole Ridge junior quarterback Zach DeCosta completed three passes in the first half for 119 yards. His 53-yard touchdown to Spearman made it 7-0 with 5:56 left in the first. Spearman followed it with a 10-yard touchdown run on Ridge's next drive.
DeCosta finished 10-of-20 for 164 yards, with a touchdown and two interceptions.
After Cypress Bay got a 26-yard field goal from junior Jonathan Semerene late in the second, senior quarterback Jaranta Lewis drove the Lightning up the field. But Hawks sophomore safety Jalen Young's interception kept it 14-3 at the half.
In the third quarter, Seminole Ridge nearly stopped Cypress Bay at third-and-23 from the Hawks' 22. Senior cornerback Omar Pierre-Louis nearly intercepted a pass, but Cypress Bay receiver Kadeem Goulbourne caught it for a touchdown.
After a Ridge punt, Dayes broke loose for a 43-yard touchdown. On the first play of the fourth quarter, he scored from 5 yards out, for a 24-14 lead. Lightning defensive back Alex Montgomery returned a DeCosta interception 56 yards for a touchdown with two minutes remaining.