After losing its season opener 13-7 at home to NSU University School at home, Glades Central’s offense seemed to be sending a message in the rematch with an opening-drive touchdown Friday night.
But after that, the offense faltered in the rain, the defense couldn’t contain the Sharks offense, and the Raiders saw their season end in a 44-21 loss in a Region 4-4A semifinal.
The Raiders (6-4) were ranked No. 4 in the state in Class 4A. Next week, the No. 3 Sharks (8-1) will play host to No. 5 Miami Gardens-Monsignor Pace, which beat Key West 31-7.
The Raiders began the game by marching 80 yards in eight plays for a 7-0 lead. Jymetre Hester scored on a 44-yard catch-and-run after he took a short pass and broke a tackle near the 35-yard line. Davius Richard, who wound up with three touchdown passes, completed 5-of-5 passes for 68 yards on the opening drive, plus runs of 10 and 9 yards.
But the Raiders punted on their next two drives after reentering Sharks territory. By the time their pass-heavy offense started clicking again, they were down 37-7 in the third quarter.
“The rain came and kind of broke our rhythm,” Glades Central coach Jessie Hester said. “I thought it let them get caught up to what we were doing.
“I thought we had a good game plan going on and kind of caught them a little bit confused, but the rain came … and from that point on, they were able to put on the pressure. … We’re just not a real good running team, so the rain really hampered us.”
The Sharks, whose run-oriented offense is more suited to rainy weather, turned the tide with touchdowns on their second and third possessions. They tied the game on an 11-play, 73-yard drive that ended when George Bubrick found Christian Wells in the end zone for a 12-yard score with 8:49 left in the half.
Minutes later, Kenny McIntosh’s 70-yard punt return for a touchdown was wiped out by a block in the back, but four plays later, he ran 29 yards down the right sideline to put University ahead 14-7 with 5:30 remaining in the half.
University broke the game open by scoring touchdowns on its first four drives of the second half, including another McIntosh 29-yard score. The Sharks also scored a safety when they blocked a punt and the ball rolled out of the end zone.
Because the Glades Central defensive line couldn’t get much penetration, University suffered losses on only three snaps through the first three quarters.
“Our defense is built to stop the run, and to those guys’ credit, they did a really good job of creating nice running lanes,” Hester said. “Once those guys got a full head of steam, it was really difficult getting them down.”
Jymetre Hester’s second touchdown reception — a 72-yard catch-and-run — got the Raiders within 37-14 with 53 seconds left in the third quarter. Desna Washington closed the scoring with a 7-yard touchdown grab with 12 seconds remaining.
Despite a disappointing end to the season, which included a loss in a thrilling Muck Bowl last week, Jessie Hester was pleased with the 2017 season and is looking forward to 2018.
“For the most part, I thought the kids played hard. I can see that the program is going in the right direction. We’ve got a lot of kids returning, so we should be a real hard out next year for certain.”