And just like that, the Rockets’ season was over.
Entering the Florida Class 6A regional final ranked No. 18 in the country and prohibitive favorite against crosstown rival Miami Northwestern, the Central Rockets fell flat throughout and were eventually topped by a last-minute touchdown drive at Traz Powell Stadium in a 19-15 victory.
There was little making sense of the loss for Central, which entered at 10-2 including a 38-10 victory against the Bulls just more than a month earlier. This time the Bulls stuck with Central toe-to-toe in a first half that ended with a 7-6 scoreline. After a tight third, scoreless third quarter, the Bulls took a lead in the fourth with a second touchdown, earning a 12-7 lead.
Central bounced back with a go-ahead touchdown and two-point conversion less than two minutes later, setting up a 15-12 scoreline that appeared to restore order to the South Florida football universe.
Not so fast. The Bulls engineered one final decisive drive, moving the length of the field and punching in the game-winning touchdown with just 37 seconds remaining. An extra point made it a four-point game and essentially wrapped up a victory that moved the Bulls a round closer to repeating as Class 6A champions.
The Bulls will play at Traz Powell again with a shot in the state semifinals against Naples, which will technically be the home team. That didn’t make a difference Friday, with the underdog Bulls proving that their state playoff experience was enough to overcome any expected gulf in talent, or even any psychological impact from the earlier loss to the same Rockets team.