ORLANDO -It took over five decades to get to the state football championship game. On Saturday night, Miami Central made the most of a first ever state appearance.
Behind the running of senior Devonta Freeman, who ran for 308 yards, the Rockets (14-1) beat previously unbeaten Orlando Dr. Phillips, 42-27 in the 6A title game at the Citrus Bowl.
The Dr. Phillips Panthers got on the board first in the opening period when Nick Patti found Chris Gallon from 29 yards out for a 7-0 lead with 9:31 left.
When Ryan Luckett stepped in front of a Rakeem Cato pass and returned 61 yards for a score, the Dr. Phillips led, 14-0, with 7:30 left in the first quarter.
Kicker Shawn Moffitt extended the Panthers lead to 17-0 when he hit a field goal from 22 yards out at the 11:49 mark of the second quarter.
The Rockets finally got on the board with 10:36 left in the first half when D'andre Randle caught a 31-yard pass from Rakeem Cato.
Central made it 17-14 with 7:59 left in the first half when Charles Gaines, Jr., returned an interception 18 yards.
Dr. Phillips moved out to 24-14 with 2:32 left in the first half when Gallon caught a 50-yard pass from Patti.
The Rockets cut the lead to 24-21 with :18 left in the first half when Cato found Devonta Freeman from 18 yards out.
Central takes its first lead (28-24) of the game when Thomas Shuler took a 13 pass from Rakeem Cato at the the 4:06 mark of the third quarter.
With the clock running down in the third quarter, Dr. Phillips cut the lead to 28-27 when Moffitt connected from 26 yards.
Freeman gave the Rockets a 35-27 cushion when he took it in from the 3 with 6:04 left in the fourth quarter.
FIRST QUARTER NOTES
* The future for the Rockets, freshman RB Joe Yearby returns opening kickoff.
* Dr. Phillips comes up with a big stop on the opening drive as Darryl Monroe comes up with the play.
* Dr. Phillips gets the ball at its own 39 and runs with Dee Hart, who has scored 50 times this year.
* Miami Central makes a lot of penalty. Already on the first drive by the Panthers - 3 for 35 yards.
* Record-setting kicker Shawn Moffitt boots the kickoff through the endzone.
* Junior LB Phillip Amone stops FSU bound RB Devonta Freeman.
* Senior QB Rahkeem Cato is starting to find his targets for the Rockets with passes to Thomas Shuler and Brian Deveaux.
* Central is a team that can afford to be down. The ability to quick score has been a trademark all season.
* All-Everything safety Hasean Clinton-Dix makes two big plays.
* Senior Laquentin Smith is yet another big play athlete for the Panthers.
* Dr. Phillips gets the back wih 4:15 left in the first quarter - up 14-0!
* So far, both marquee backs Dee Hart (Dr. Phillips) and Devonta Freeman have been held in check.
* Central senior LB Carroll Phillips has been in the backfield the entire first quarter. He is the Rockets' leading tackler.
* Clinton-Dix is now getting it done on the offensive side of the ball.
* Senior Joe Scott comes in at quarterback as the Panthers are driving again.
SECOND QUARTER NOTES
* Central finally puts pressure on and forces a field goal attempt.
* Thomas Shuler returns kick 54 yards.
* Freeman's longest gain of the night inside Dr. Phillips' territory.
* After the TD, the Rockets are inspired as senior Dwight Jackson, Jr. comes up with a big play.
* The tide us turning!
* Dr. Phillips has watched the Rockets score 14 unanswered points to cut the lead to 17-14.
* Prince DeJesus, Oliver Vigile (Syracuse) and Ladell Pleasure have stepped up the defense for the Rockets who have turned game around.
* The Panthers will once again punt to Miami Central with 6:44 left in the half.
* Senior Chris Curtis trying to create pressure, but the Rockets have awaken and are starting to do what they want.
* Andreis Norris comes up momentum switching hit, forcing a third and long.
* Nadelman missed a 42 yard field goal.
* Penalties once again are starting to creep up on the Rockets, who had 6 in the opening quarter.
* Senior Zach Durham catches the ball in Central territory.
* Freeman and the Rockets need to get things going, down 24-14.
THIRD QUARTER NOTES
*Central defense is trying to set the tempo as the second half is uner way.
* Prine DeJesus is really coming up huge for the Rockets.
* Darryl Monroe makes a huge stop for the Panthers, putting the Rockets in a tough position.
* Both teams go through a feeling out period in the opening moments of the second half.
* DeJesus is making a name for himself as he continues to put pressure on for the Rockets.
* Freeman runs for a key first down to keep the Central drive going with 7:09 left in the third quarter.
* Key defensive play for Dr. Phillips and senior DE Anthony Hendley.
* A thick fog starts to roll into the Citrus Bowl, which reminds many of the 2001 state title game between Northwestern and Apopka.
FOURTH QUARTER NOTES
* Freeman starts the fourth quarter with a huge run. He has 179 yards on the ground.
* Cato now has Dr. Phillips back on heir heels with running and passing. First down at the 10.
* Freeman currently has 208 yards on 29 carries.
* The fog is really terrible, but on the field, the players can see - I would imagine.
* The Panthers are taking advantage of 17 Central penalties.
* Durrell Eskridge comes up with a HUGE intercpetion.
* Freeman takes it 80 yards and now has 294 yards on 33 carries.
* Freshman Jonathan Harris recovers a fumble for the Rockets.
CENTRAL 0 21 7 14 - 42
DR. PHILLIPS 14 10 3 0 - 27
DP - Chris Gallon 29 pass from Nick Patti (Shawn Moffitt kick), 9:31 (1), 7-0
DP - Ryan Luckett 61 pass interception (Shawn Moffitt kick), 7:30 (2), 14-0
DP - Shawn Moffitt 22 fg, 11:49 (2), 14-0
MC - D'andre Randle 31 pass from Rakeem Cato (Emilio Nadelman kick), 10:36 (2), 17-7.
MC - Charles Gaines Jr., 18 interception return (Emilio Nadelman kick), 7:59 (2), 17-14
DP - Chris Gallon 50 pass from Nick Patti (Shawn Moffitt kick), 2:32 (2), 24-14
MC - Devonta Freeman 18 pass from Rakeem Cato, :18 (2), 24-21
MC - Thomas Shuler 13 pass from Rakeem Cato (Emilio Nadelman kick), 4:06 (3), 28-24
DP - Shawn Moffitt 26 fg, :31 (3), 28-27
MC - Devonta Freeman 3 run (Emilio Nadelman kick), 6:04 (4), 35-27
MC - Devonta Freeman 4 run (Emilio Nadelman kick), :38 (4), 42-27
HERALD STATEWIDE INFORMATION