Pahokee 42, Frostproof 28: Blue Devils advance to state semifinals

With Pahokee clinging to a 28-21 lead over Frostproof early in the fourth quarter, Leroy Love said he was “praying” for the underdog Bulldogs to kick the ball to him.

Prayer answered.

Love needed only 11 seconds to give Pahokee some breathing room, returning the kickoff 79 yards for a touchdown to help the Blue Devils turn back the Bulldogs 42-28 in a Class 1A regional final Friday night at Anquan Boldin Stadium.

“When I saw the hole, I made one cut and I was gone,” said Love, who wasn’t touched on the play.

Pahokee (8-2) advances to play top-ranked Madison County (12-0) in the state semifinals next Friday in Madison. The Cowboys crushed Dixie County 62-7.

The Blue Devils appeared to have the game in hand at halftime, answering an opening touchdown drive by the Bulldogs (7-5) with three long scoring drives to take a 21-7 lead. The last score came on a 2-yard pass from Deonte Nelson to Lonkevious McFadden on the final play of the half.

Pahokee was set to receive the second-half kickoff, but Frostproof recovered an onside kick and used the running of workhorse Deonte McMahon to mount a quick 44-yard scoring drive, making it 21-14.

That set up a seesaw second half, with Frostproof cutting the deficit to seven points three times and Pahokee answering with a touchdown each time. Pahokee Coach Orson Walkes couldn’t breathe easy until the Bulldogs turned the ball over on downs in the closing minutes after reaching the Blue Devils’ 2-yard line.

“That’s a scrappy bunch,” Walkes said of the Bulldogs. “I’ve got to give Frostproof credit. But I’ve got to give us credit, too, for overcoming all our mistakes.”

With top running back Jateri Washington still sidelined with an ankle injury, Pahokee used a running-back-by-committee system to rush for 230 yards. LaVonski Williams led the way with 77 yards and two touchdowns, DeVuntrae Hampton added 69 yards and a TD and TaMichael Boldin had 43 yards.

“I’ll be ready next week,” said Washington, who also missed the first-round playoff game against Williston.

Walkes knows the Blue Devils will have to play better against the Cowboys. The defense allowed McMahon to gain 165 yards on 32 carries and had several breakdowns in the secondary, and Pahokee was penalized 99 yards.

“We have to clean up our play,” Walkes said. “At times, we’re just not disciplined.”

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