COCOA This time, it was the guys from Miami finishing the football season in the semifinal round.
Five years after Cocoa High and Booker T. Washington first met in a state semifinal, the Tigers came out on the winning side at Cocoa Stadium on Friday, 24-21. Cocoa (10-1) earned a spot in the Dec. 8 Class 4A championship against Jacksonville Bolles, which also advanced, 31-26 over South Sumter.
Cocoa broke the Tornadoes’ five-year hold of the playoff series.
“It’s been a long time,” Tigers coach John Wilkinson said between offers of congratulations from former players and fans on the field. “It’s been just a huge monkey on my shoulders, a load.”
After consecutive championships in 2008, ’09 and ’10, Cocoa went to Miami for the 2011 state semifinal round and lost in overtime, 20-14 to BTW. The Tornadoes won the next four meetings, all in the same round, until Friday.
“It’s exciting,” said offensive lineman Josh Padrick, who has played in three of the games. “We wanted it. It’s been five years, and I think it was time.”
Padrick and his fellow linemen opened up the hole exploited by Lasedrick King for a 14-yard touchdown run with 1:25 to play. Then, pass rushers Howard Stewart and C.J. Bartley did what they had done all night, harrassing visiting quarterback Daniel Richardson and ending BTW’s reign.
Just minutes earlier, it appeared the Tornadoes (9-4) would put the game away. They led, 21-17, and they were inside the Cocoa 30 before successive penalties moved the visitors back beyond the 50.
“I tried to remain calm,” Wilkinson said. “The ball had to bounce our way eventually. It had bounced their way so many times.”
After a punt, Cocoa took over at its 22 with 4:42 to play. A 19-yard Bruce Judson pass to Javian Hawkins and a 28-yarder to Dezmon Morgan got the team into scoring position.
Tigers special teams made key plays to keep the team in the game. A muffed punt rolled past the Tornadoes returner and into the end zone early in the second period. Zach Christian recovered it there for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead.
Cocoa trailed at halftime, 14-7, but Judson tied the game with a 1-yard keeper midway through the third. Minutes later, John Smith blocked a BTW punt, and Dajavon White recovered it to set up what turned out to be a go-ahead Alex Petruzzello 27-yard field goal.
The Tornadoes regained the lead with 24 seconds to play in the third on a Daniel Richardson keeper, 21-17.
COCOA 24, MIAMI WASHINGTON 21
BTW 0 14 7 0 – 21
Cocoa 0 7 10 7 – 24
C: Zach Christian recovered fumble in end zone (Alex Petruzzello kick), 9:58
BTW: Craig Nelson 9 run (Christian Roldan kick), 6:56
BTW: Sharod Johnson 54 pass from Daniel Richardson (Roldan kick), 1:20
C: Bruce Judson 1 run (Petruzzello kick), 7:41
C: Petruzzello 27 FG, 3:45
BTW: Richardson 1 run (Roldan kick), :24
C: Lasedrick King 14 run (Petruzzello kick), 1:25
Rushing: BTW – Nelson 20-86, Johnson 1-2, Richardson 11-(-5). C – King 9-52, Javian Hawkins 10-45, Timmy Pratt 7-19, Judson 6-27.
Passing: BTW – Richardson 18-25-1 245. C – Judson 8-12-1 78.
Receiving: BTW – DeAndre Williams 4-34, Johnson 4-136, Nelson 3-12, Brian Livingston 2-25, Tyquan Thornton 4-29, Quayvon Beckford 1-9. C – Hawkins 3-11, Morgan Dezmon 2-45, Javon Spencer 1-11, Ian Edwards 1-11, Pratt 1-0.