Booker T. Washington stays perfect with OT thriller in Burger King State Champions Bowl Series

Booker T. Washington stays perfect with OT thriller in Burger King State Champions Bowl Series


Booker T. Washington stays perfect with OT thriller in Burger King State Champions Bowl Series


Booker T. Washington coach Tim Harris Jr. (center, with hat) and his players celebrate after his team's overtime victory Saturday. Photo by Jim Halley.

Booker T. Washington coach Tim Harris Jr. (third from left, with hat) and his team celebrates after his team’s overtime victory Saturday. Photo by Jim Halley.

BOCA RATON, Fla. — Quarterback Maurice Alexander ran in a 5-yard touchdown to lift No. 4 Booker T. Washington (Miami) to a 34-28 overtime victory against No. 8 Bingham (South Jordan, Utah) Saturday night in the final of the inaugural Burger King State Champions Bowl Series.

In the overtime period, each team had a chance to score from the opponent’s 10-yard line. Akeem Jackson sacked Bingham quarterback Kyle Gearig on third down, forcing the Miners to try a 36-yard field goal by Chayden Johnston that went wide right.

The Tornadoes made it 41 wins in a row when running back Mark Walton ran for five yards on first down and Alexander kept it for the winning score. Alexander threw for 216 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran for 55 yards and two touchdowns and brought his team back from a 28-21 fourth-quarter deficit.

“I am just proud of the way our kids and coaches, the way we played together,” Booker T. Washington coach Tim Harris Jr. said. “We practice those situations. We haven’t been in one in a game, but we do a two-minute drill where we’re down and we do that every day in practice. That’s what made me comfortable with getting the ball back with Maurice and a minute and 50 seconds left.”

The Tornadoes own the state’s longest current winning streak, and hadn’t trailed in the fourth quarter since a 20-13 defeat of Miami Central in 2013.

With Booker T. Washington’s victory, Florida finished off a sweep of the three games at the inaugural event after earlier victories by Trinity Christian (Jacksonville) and Miami Central.

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Gearig, who missed the team’s state 5A championship with a dislocated elbow, scored a go-ahead touchdown with just over two minutes remaining on a 1-yard run. That capped an 17-play, 80-yard drive that ate up eight minutes, 25 seconds and gave the Miners a 28-21 lead.

But the Tornadoes (15-0) came right back, scoring nine plays later on a 14-yard pass from Alexander to Vaquan Smith with 18 seconds left, the second time the two connected in the quarter.

Bingham (13-2), which had not played since late November, let Cameron Smith and Javontay Smith chew up yardage and the clock at the same time and keep the speedy Tornadoes off the field. Smith’s longest run was only eight yards, but he ran for two touchdowns and caught a touchdown pass to give Bingham a 20-14 lead with 3:07 to go in the third quarter.

The Miners’ only losses this season were in overtime. They also fell 23-20 at No. 1 Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas).

“They’re both equally good, they both have a lot of talent, a lot of speed and a lot of athleticism,” said Bingham coach Dave Peck, who was coaching his final game with the Miners. “When it comes down to it, I don’t know if I could pick one team over the other.”

After Bingham stopped Walton twice at the 1-yard line, Alexander rolled out and threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Smalls to tie the score at 21 with 10:41 to go in the fourth quarter.

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Booker T. Washington’s first score only took 33 seconds as Alexander connected with Shaquille Green for two consecutive passes, the first a 46-yard completion and the second an 8-yard toss to the left corner of the end zone.

Bingham got on the board with 17 seconds to go in the first quarter after Smith ran it in from the 1-yard line to tie it at 7-7. Smith was the primary mover on the drive, with several big runs and a 13-yard pass reception.

Alexander put the Tornadoes back up at 14-7, capping an 11-play, 80-yard drive with a 1-yard run with 4:50 remaining in the first half.

Smith scored again just before halftime, hauling in a 25-yard pass from Gearig, who rolled out right then threw left for the touchdown to tie the score at 14.



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