The Cinderella story was all set up. King’s Academy, the massive underdog against top-ranked Oxbridge Academy, took an early lead on a returned interception for a touchdown by Cory Croteau in the first quarter.
But the clock struck figurative midnight in the second quarter, and the ThunderWolves turned the game into a rout. Oxbridge put a running clock on King’s, winning 42-7 in the Class 3A regional semifinals Friday night in West Palm Beach.
“It was supposed to be 62-0; that’s what our mentality was,” quarterback Gio Richardson said. “We didn’t get there … but we got a win.”
The first quarter was rough for the ThunderWolves (8-1). They couldn’t do anything on offense to counter the Lions’ (7-2) early lead.
“We started off terrible,” Oxbridge coach Brendan Kent said. “Sloppy on offense. It was terrible. Not a good way to start the football game.
“We told our guys just settle in and do what we do.”
In the second quarter, the ThunderWolves started to look like the team that earned the top spot in The Post’s rankings for much of the season.
With the field wet following a late-afternoon storm, Oxbridge turned to the ground game. The ThunderWolves got on the board with a 10-yard run from senior running back Luis Gonzalez, then added another score on a 5-yard run by James Meeks.
Richardson also shined in the second quarter. He punched in a 2-yard score that added to his final total of 164 rushing yards.
“At first, they were looking for the pass,” Richardson said. “But I used my legs to score.”
Then, after an interception by Pennsylvania commit Jason McCleod, Richardson came right back and threw a 33-yard touchdown pass to De’John King.
Oxbridge’s offense erupted for 35 points in the second quarter, while the defense shut out King’s.
Oxbridge held King’s Academy to only 54 offensive yards and three first downs, two of which came after Meeks added his second score of the night to start a running clock.
The ThunderWolves next will face Melbourne Central Catholic, which was a state semifinalist last year.
“We’ve got to execute on offense and we’ve got to be able to contain their quarterback and their running back,” Kent said. “They’ve got a really good backfield. And we have just got to have the best week of practice that we’ve had and get ready for a big game next week.”