Hello everybody. This is Frank DeMarzo and I will be posting updates and observations on this blog throughout the game. First off, the place is packed, easily the biggest crowd of the weekend. And they're all here to see the top team in the country. Unfortunately, Pahokee played last week (just kidding Bulls fans).
The Bulls are the home team dressed in black and instead of running through the tunnel as the team was announced, they all walked slowly up to the banner with 305 written across it before rushing through. We're getting ready to kickoff so here we go.
FIRST QUARTER HIGHLIGHTS
First NW Drive - Northwestern forced a quick three-and-out by Boone and moved close to midfield thanks to a screen pass to Kendal Thompkins, and run by Jacory Harris.
Following a holding call, Harris throws deep to Brandon Drayton, who went way up for the catch. Next play, Harris throws a 31-yard touchdown pass to Tommy Streeter. Right out of the gate, the Bulls flex their offensive muscle. The drive took just 1:17.
Second Boone Drive - Boone's Danny Williams appeared to fumble the kickoff, and on the television replays it looks like he did. But there are no replays in high school, so the call stays. Boone will start the drive at the 31-yard line.
Again, three straight runs by Boone and a punt. A personal foul call and a delay of game on the Braves will push Boone back to the 18-yard line.
Wow, another Boone penalty. That is five in a row for the Braves, who call a much needed timeout. Not a good thing when you are already in a hole against a team like NW.
Well, they finally got the punt off and it was a 68-yarder.
Second NW Drive - Harris throws to Aldarius Johnson on third down and is a yard short at the 34-yard line. NW calls a timeout, probably to discus whether to go for it. They choose to punt. That has to give Boone some confidence.
Third Boone Drive - And on the first play of the drive, Sam Hutsell throws a 9-yard pass to Williams. That was followed by an encroachment penalty on the Bulls, giving Boone a first down. Trying to build on the momentum, they follow it up with a fumbled snap, a sack and a horribly overthrown pass. Another punt, which so far has been the best part of their game. This one is down at the 1-yard line.
Third NW Drive - Give what happened last week, a 99-yard drive is not an impossibility for these guys. Two short passes and a run by Daquan Hargrett moved NW out of the shadow of the endzone.
Just heard the stats, Harris is 7-9 passing for 113 yards. He just ran for five, and followed that up with a pass to Thompkins for a first down. And that will do it for the first quarter.
SECOND QUARTER HIGHLIGHTS
Ah, a wedding proposal on the field during the break. And she said yes!
NW Drive Continued - Another stalled drive by NW as a holding call and two consecutive incomplete passes will force the punt.
Fourth Boone Drive - Another rush by James Washington for Boone. He had 291 carries this year so I can imagine he will be getting the ball quite a bit today. So far, he has five rushes for just eight yards.
Wow, Sean Spence just came up with the hit of the game, drilling Washington immediately after he caught a short pass. That'll force another Boone punt.
Fourth NW Drive - NW will start at the 38-yard line, and the Bulls are keeping it on the ground as Tyresse Jones runs for a first down on three carries. A face mask penalty will add 15 yards.
A bad snap and NW loses 21 yards on the play. After Harris overthrows a wide open Robert Demps, he is almost picked off. It's a third straight punt for NW and the Boone sideline is going crazy right now.
Fifth Boone Drive - Well that will change the momentum. Pinned down near the goal line, Washington fumbles and Khalid Marshal scoops up the ball and runs it in for the touchdown. Harris hits Thompkins for the 2-pointer. 14-0 NW.
Sixth Boone Drive - The Braves fans have understandably quieted down a bit. After two runs by Washington, Boone finally attempts a pass, but Hutsell is sacked. Boone lines up for a punt, and its blocked! Wow, the punt, the one thing Boone had going for it, turns into a disaster for the Braves as Tevin McCaskill comes through with the block, and Spence returns it for a touchdown. 21-0 NW.
Seventh Boone Drive - Hutsell completes his second pass of the game, hitting - who else - Washington for a first down. But the Braves just keep killing themselves as Washington fumbles again and Levonte David recovers for the Bulls.
Fifth NW Drive - There's less than three minutes before the half so I imagine NW will go for the quick score. Again Harris tries to go deep, but the ball is just off the fingertips of Thompkins to bring up 3rd-and-22. And it's another fumbled snap, this one is recovered by Boone at the NW 33-yard line. It looked like Harris was trying to call a timeout when the ball was snapped.
Eighth Boone Drive - The Braves are close to scoring after a 10-yard run by Jeremy Brown. On the next play, Washington runs for 19-yards to get down to the 3-yard line. On the next play, Washington fumbles again. NW will get the ball their own 10-yard line.
Sixth NW Drive - Harris is sacked for a loss of five, and his next pass is incomplete. It's 3rd-and-15 from the five. Harris hits Hargrett, who runs down to midfield. There's 1:04 left in the half.
Harris' next pass is picked off by Harrison Hodges with :27 left. Boone lines up with four wide, looking like they're going to go deep, but Hutsell is sacked by Marcus Forston. Boone calls a timeout with :12 left, and the Braves will take a knee to run out the clock. It's 21-0 NW at the half. I'll be back with halftime stats and observations shortly.
Before I get to the game, the FHSAA, as part of its celebration of 100 years of football, honored the 1967 Coral Gables team as its team of the century.
The Bulls defense was on during the first half, holding the Braves to just 68 total yards. But since the first quarter, the offense has not been the explosive juggernaut it was during the season. Harris has 176 yards, one touchdown and one pick, but the running game has just three yards. If not for the turnovers by Boone, NW does not lead 21-0. But then again, if not for the defense scoring off of turnovers, NW would have had more than just three possessions in the second quarter. We'll see how it goes when they get the ball to start the second half.
THIRD QUARTER HIGHLIGHTS
NW First Drive - After missing on two passes, Harris hits Streeter for a first down. Two plays later, Harris finds Johnson in the endzone, but he is called for pass interference. Next play, Harris hits Thompkins for a 24-yard touchdown. There's the offense. That drive took less than two minutes. 28-0 NW.
Boone First Drive - A few runs gave the Braves a first down, but an incompletion brings up 3rd-and-10 as the 48. Hutsell hits Jeremy Brown, but it was for a loss. Another Boone punt, and this one was more bad news for the Braves. Thomkison picks the ball up off a bounce and runs 69-yards for the touchdown.
Just like that, its 35-0 NW. The NW crowd is already chanting "Hey Hey Hey, Goodbye". There is 7:00 left in the third quarter.
Boone Second Drive - I turned away for a moment to work on something else, but it appears to me more of the same for the Braves offense. The running game cannot get through, and we have another third down. This time Hutsell runs, and he gets the first.
The t.v. just showed a shot of the Boone fans and they aren't making too much noise right about now, which is understandable given the score. Hutsell drops back and is sacked again. It's third-and-long from the Boone 40. Hutsell tries to throw but is brought down again. He may just start to drop back three yards and fall down. It'll save him the physical pain of Marcus Forston crashing into him.
On fourth down, the Boone punting game returned to being the lifeblood of the team as a roughing the kicker call gave Boone a first down.
It's fourth down again, and they finally get an event-free punt off, although there is a penalty on NW. I think Boone will take that.
NW Second Drive - It seems like it's been ages since the Bulls had the ball. They start at their own 6-yard line. On second down, Harris finds Johnson for a 20-yard gain. Two plays later, Harris shows off his running skills, racing down to the Boone 25 before making a few defenders look foolish as he gained a few more. It was a 51-yard run, and that will end the third quarter. Its NW 35-0.
FOURTH QUARTER HIGHLIGHTS
NW Drive Continued - Harris is sacked to start the quarter, and the entire NW sideline just fell completely silent as Harris stayed on the field. He needed help to walk to the sidelines.
On the next play, backup QB Wayne Times hits Johnson for the touchdown. A failed 2-pointer makes it 41-0 NW.
UPDATE - Manny Navarro said that Harris told him he is okay.
Boone Third Drive - It's official, there is a running clock. In a state title game. We also have the attendance. The paid attendance is 21,235 short of the record by 1,800. The announced attendance is 22,752.
While I was listening to that, Spence, returned a punt for a touchdown but it was called back on a penalty. NW will have the ball at the 27-yard line.
NW Third Drive - Times is still in and he hits Tyrell Lewis for a first down pass. The Bulls appear to have most of their starters out of the game at this point. On second down, there was another bad snap, as the ball travels past the 30-yard line. Times picks it up and manages to keep it just a 6-yard loss. NW gets stopped on 4th down to end the drive.
Boone Forth Drive - We're just watching the clock tick down at this point, although Boone is doing whatever they can to avoid the shutout. Speaking of shutouts, the record for biggest shutout victory in an FHSAA state title game was 39-0 set in 1965 by Bradford, unless somebody tells me differently. In case your wondering, the record margin of victory is 63 points. That was set in 2000 by Venice.
And that is it. NW wins 41-0 for their second straight 6A state title. South Florida goes 3-for-3 at the state finals and the Bulls finish as the National Champions. Congratulations Northwestern on another amazing season.
I'll be back with some stats and post game observations shortly.
POST GAME OBSERVATIONS
So here are the final stats - Harris was 17-32-1 with 281 yards and 2 TD's. He also ran for 51 yards. Johnson had 7 catches for 84 yards, Steeter had 4 for 91, and Thompkins had 3-41. All three had touchdown catches.
On defense, Forston had 6 tackles, including three for loss, while Spence had six tackles, three for loss. Quavon Taylor led the team with 8 tackles.
This was my first time covering NW and I was very impressed. In fact, today was the first time I saw either them or Booker T. Washington. I work out of Broward so I did not get a chance to see them at all this year, but I did get to cover Pahokee earlier this year, and I saw St. Thomas a few times, so I was lucky to have covered such great teams this year.
Congratulations to St. Thomas, Booker T. Washington, and Northwestern for bringing titles home to South Florida. Thank you to all the readers out there, I hope you guys enjoyed this live blog as well as all of our coverage this football season. Check back to the Miami Herald's site later on for all the stories from tonight's game.