A fiery first quarter counteracted the November chill and powered the Latin Academy football team as they cooled off previously unbeaten O’Bryant on Friday night.
The 20-6 victory at Madison Park in Friday's MIAA in a Division 6 North semifinal puts the Dragons one win away from a trip to the Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium.
Latin Academy will play the winner of Saturday’s game between Cathedral and St. Clement next weekend for a chance at Gillette in the North sectional final.
The victory also avenged the the Dragons’ only loss of the season, a 21-8 setback to the Tigers in October.
“With all of the hard work we put in all season, it would be devastating to lose to a team twice,” Latin Academy quarterback Kyle Dance said. “We all came together as a team and I think we’ll all be ready to do the same next week.”
O’Bryant (8-1) could never rebound from playing without their starting quarterback and one of the team’s most adept players Ajani Alfred-McFall, who injured his left leg as he got dragged down awkwardly on a run on the third play of the game.
The only score O’Bryant could muster came on a third-quarter strip sack by Tobi Fashemi that was recovered by Michael McLean, who ran it into the endzone from seven yards out.
Mehki Williams rushed for a game-high 129 yards on 19 carries for the Tigers.
Latin Academy (8-1) was held scoreless for the final three straight quarters, but with the work they had put in during the first quarter, the lead was safe. In just four minutes of play late in the first quarter, the Dragons pounced on the Tigers and posted 20 unanswered straight points.
Two of Latin Academy’s scores came by way of after fumble recoveries. Chinedu Igbokwe scored the Dragons’ first touchdown on a 4-yard rush with 4:36 to go in the first quarter.
Kyle Dance, following an O’Bryant fumble on the snap on the second play of their drive, sliced through the Tigers’ defense the first play of the drive on his way to a 22-yard touchdown rush. O’Bryant muffed the kickoff, its third fumble of the quarter, and the Dragons recovered, leading to Dance’s second rushing score of the game four plays later from 34 yards out.
Midway through his second TD run, Dance pulled a leg muscle but was still able to score before laying in the end zone for a few minutes. And Although he would not return to the game, his presence on the field was already felt.
“We had an advantage running the ball our coach said, and it worked out for us” said Dance, who looked faster than he had all year long on his two touchdown rushes right up the middle of the O’Bryant defense. “I think it was [the adrenaline flowing]. In these big games you got to step up for your team and I tried my best until that one run where my hamstring just gave out on me, other than that I tried my best.”
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