What a game.
I wrote those words at 1:15 a.m. Saturday morning because even though I’d just spent hours covering the wildest game Palm Beach County will likely see this year, I could not sleep. My adrenaline was coursing, and I didn’t even play.
Pahokee took down rival Glades Central in Friday’s Muck Bowl in an 33-27 overtime game that the word “thriller” can only begin to describe. It’s the type of game that about 5,000 people attended but 15,000 will later swear they were in the bleachers, if only they could find the ticket stub.
So much happened Friday night that I could only really focus on the last few minutes of the game in my story, so I felt the need to write this. A Division-I caliber player got ejected four plays into the game. A running back rushed for more than 200 yards. Santonio Holmes was there!
You knew Friday’s game was going to be something big right from the get-go. This year, the Muck Bowl would help decide if Pahokee and Glades Central would make the playoffs. And both teams were so obviously evenly matched.
I arrived almost two hours before kickoff. There was a line to get into the parking lot and more lines to get into the stadium.
The music was blaring, the barbecue was cooking (I had a barbecue pork sandwich; it was fantastic) and both teams were already warming up. There was no messing around.
The stands were packed by 6:45. Kickoff wasn’t until 7:30.
I picked Glades Central to win Friday night and claim their ninth Muck Bowl victory in 10 years. Technically, the Raiders won last year’s, too, because the Blue Devils had to vacate all their victories (and a state championship because of FHSAA rules violations). But no one considers that a win. We all saw it with our own eyes.
Truth be told, I had no idea what would happen in this game except that it would almost certainly be close. And it was. No team led by more than a score.
On the last drive of the game, Pahokee was poised to win. Then the Blue Devils looked finished. Then, inexplicably, they weren’t. They had a 7th grader – that’s right, a 7th grader! – kick the game-tying field goal on the biggest stage of his life to this point, and he nailed it. Just drilled it through the goalposts.
Then they turned to their horse of a running back, Jatarie Washington, to finish off the game.
Washington and Blue Devils coach Orson Walkes said the junior was dealing with some nagging injuries. I don’t know if I believe them. Washington was a blur, hitting holes so quick, I would lose track of him.
Washington sprinted to the end zone from 14 yards out, losing the ball so close to the end-zone line that players from both teams went to dive for it. It didn’t matter. The referees’ arms went up. Pahokee won.
The Blue Devils planted their flag at midfield, staking their claim to the Muck Bowl trophy, to Effie C. Grear Field and to the right to say they played in the best game this county has seen all year.