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Cooper City Gets Biggest Win in 40 Years, Upsets Aquinas 21-16

CchsPaul Megna stood on the sideline, his right arm cradling a football he found on the field.

The long-time athletic director of Cooper City High said he didn't know what he was going to do with it, but he knew it wasn't going anywhere fast.

A graduate of Cooper City, Megna knew he just witnessed something special and that football wasn't leaving his sight.

For the first time in school history, the Cowboys upset a nationally ranked team, beating host St. Thomas Aquinas 21-16 to claim the District 15-7A title. The district win is just Cooper City's second in school history – and second straight. In the 40-year history of the program, no victory has been bigger than Friday's come-from-behind win on Aquinas turf.

Last year, the Raiders ended Cooper City's season with a 49-7 victory in the regional playoffs.

“This just took our program to the next level,'' Megna said as Cooper City's players continued their celebration. “We have kids who believe in our coach and will do anything for him. I'm loving life right now.''

Aquinas hadn't lost a home game in years before Miramar knocked off the Raiders last month. Before the Patriots did it, the last visiting coach to win at Aquinas was Deerfield Beach's Art Taylor. Now in his second year at Cooper City, Taylor obviously has a knack for beating the Raiders.

“These kids are such fighters. No one believe this except for us,'' Taylor said. “These kids, man, we have starters out but we play hard. What do you say about a game like this?''

Aquinas (7-2) hasn't lost a district title in 15 years, not since losing to Piper in 1996. But on Friday, the Raiders watched the Cowboys (9-0) score 14 points in the third quarter to seize control of the game.

Cooper City trailed 3-0 early and were about to go down six when an Aquinas field goal was blocked. Camden Krohn casually picked up the ball at the 1 and sprinted up field, scoring from 99 yards out to give the Cowboys what would be a short-lived 7-3 lead with 7:50 left in the second. Aquinas led 10-7 at the half after outgaining the Cowboys by 100 yards.

Despite not having Krohn for the start of the second half (he said his heart rate was escalated after the touchdown), Cooper City was able to keep the Raiders at bay. Midway through the third, Aquinas quarterback Max Lescano was intercepted by Tyson Burch at the 33. The Cooper City linebacker rambled to the 3, and Krohn punched it in one play later after an Aquinas penalty.

“This proves everyone wrong. Kids at our school, people around the county, everyone,'' Krohn said. “We earned some respect. We made the big plays and our defense played phenomenal. That's one of the great teams in the nation and we stopped them. We'll see them again, but we stopped them.''

Aquinas benched Lescano in favor of John O'Korn, and that move didn't work out initially as the junior fumbled under pressure on his second snap. Jordan Mornay picked up the loose ball and sprinted into the end zone to give the Cowboys a 21-10 lead.

O'Korn gave the Raiders a chance with a late drive that culminated in a 8-yard pass to Mark Barr with 2:31 left. Cooper City's James Zawoyski recovered the onside kick, but the Raiders used their three timeouts and got the ball back with 2:03 left. O'Korn's final pass on 4th-and-15 was incomplete with 22 seconds left and the celebration was on.

The game ended ugly as a skirmish broke out with some fans who jumped onto the field escorted out by Fort Lauderdale Police as players from both sides jawed at each other and had to be separated. Taylor and Aquinas coach Rocco Casullo hugged at the 50 and the two teams ended up lining up and shaking hands.