On to Orlando… Cowboys advance past Pahokee

Courtesy of FloridaHSFootball.com

Courtesy of FloridaHSFootball.com

By Rick Patrick
Greene Publishing, Inc.
Madison County Carrier

It was a bit of well-earned sweet revenge as the Madison County High School (MCHS) Cowboys punched their ticket to the Class 1A State Championship game with a 28-10 victory over Pahokee High on Friday, Nov. 24, in front of a packed Boot Hill Stadium.

With the victory, the Cowboys kept alive their quest to become the first team in school history to win a state championship with an undefeated season; while at the same time, avenging last year’s semi-final loss to Pahokee High.

The game started out as expected with a defensive struggle, with neither team moving the ball on the opposing defense.

As the first quarter wound down, Pahokee managed to move the ball deep into the Cowboys’ territory. However, a bad snap on a third-and-goal from the five-yard line moved the Blue Devils back, forcing them to settle for a 22-yard field goal. At the end of the first period, the score was 3-0 in favor of the visiting Blue Devils.

On the first play of the second quarter, the Cowboy offensive line opened a huge hole in the middle of the line, “like the parting of the Red Sea,” as Cowboy Offensive Coordinator James Ertzberger put it. This allowed Derrick Staten to shoot through.

Once Staten made his way into the Blue Devils’ secondary, it was a foot race, and there was no doubt who was going to win that contest. Staten ran the 65 yards to the end-zone, for the first Cowboy touchdown of the evening. Drew Herring’s PAT split the uprights, giving the Cowboys a 7-3 advantage with 11:47 remaining in the second period.

The following Blue Devil drive stalled at the 30-yard line following a huge quarterback sack by Patrick Hampton.

The Cowboys began their next drive at their own 36-yard line. The Cowboys’ offense rushing attack of Staten and Teryon Henderson racked up huge chunks of yardage. The drive was capped off when quarterback Tre Adams punched the ball over the goal line from two yards out. The PAT was good and the score was 14-3 with 4:37 remaining in the first half.

The Blue Devils showed they were not just going to give up easily when they quickly took their next drive from near mid-field into the end-zone on a 20-yard pass play. The score was 14-10 with 2:19 remaining in the second quarter.

Then, the Cowboys quickly moved the ball with the Staten and Henderson rushing attack behind the powerful Cowboy offensive line. The Cowboy drive finished with Staten breaking tackles from 15 yards out, and stretching the ball over the goal-line at the end of his run. The score was 21-10 as the final seconds ticked away in the first half.

The second half of the contest began in much the same fashion as the first half, with a defensive struggle. The third quarter ended with the score still at 21-10.

The defensive “tug-of-war” continued into the fourth quarter with neither team moving the ball much beyond midfield.

Midway through the fourth quarter, the Cowboys took over at the Blue Devil 45-yard line. The Cowboys moved the ball into Blue Devils’ territory, then Staten ran 25 yards to pay-dirt for his third rushing touchdown of the evening. The score was 28-10 with 5:36 remaining in the contest.

The Blue Devils began their next drive at their own 31-yard line. The drive ended when they attempted a deep pass, which was picked off by Cowboy defensive back, Travis Jay, in the end-zone. Jay brought the ball out of the end-zone and appeared to be running toward the sideline, unopposed. When it became clear to everyone on the field that the play was still on-going, Jay turned up-field and moved the ball to the Blue Devil 45-yard line.

“I was going to just take a knee in the end-zone, but I heard someone tell me to bring it out, so I did,” he said.

The Cowboys were able to run the clock to 00:00, sealing the victory and their first trip to the state championship game in five years.

Staten led the Cowboy rushing attack with 204 yards on 17 carries and three touchdowns. Henderson had 121 yards on 16 rushing attempts. Adams had one rushing touchdown.

The Cowboys last won a state title in 2007, when Frankie Carroll was the head coach of the Cowboys.

The Cowboys will face the Blountstown High School Tigers in the Class 1A state championship game on Thursday, Dec. 7, at 1 p.m. The game will take place at Camping World Stadium (formerly known as the Citrus Bowl) in Orlando. Ticket information and information on the live pay-per-view on-line broadcast of the game can be found at www.fhsaa.org.

Madison County residents are encouraged to line Hwy. 90 on Wednesday, Dec. 6, at 11 a.m. to show your support of the Cowboys as they depart for Orlando.