ORLANDO – In a matchup of two teams with more combined losses than any other state final in the playoff era, the North Florida Christian Eagles from Tallahassee are state champions for the eighth time in school history in ten appearances in Class 2A following their victory over defending champions Champagnat from Hialeah.
The Eagles got off to the fastest start they could have possibly imagined when TJ Ward picked off Christopher Vidal on the first play from scrimmage and made the house call from 35 yards out to put NFC up 7-0. It was a lead that they would never relinquish.
Champagnat did respond after the first haymaker was thrown, driving 42 yards in 10 plays to pull within a point at 7-6 taking four minutes and twenty seconds off the clock. Five of the next six possessions ended in punts, with the lone exception a missed field goal by Champagnat after driving 50 yards in 13 plays consuming nearly half the second quarter. The Eagles then orchestrated a 9-play, 43 yard drive to put themselves up by two scores just before the two squads entered the halftime break.
Coming out of the lockers, NFC put themselves in a commanding position when Champagnat muffed a punt backed up to their end zone and the Eagles were able to fall on the ball and capitalize on the critical error that the Lions had committed.
Champagnat did their best to make it a game following the mishap on special teams when Daryn Jones capped an 85 yard drive to pull the Lions within a touchdown with plenty of time remaining. That’s when the Eagles decided enough-was-enough and went on a 9-play 64 yard drive that put them up 28-14. The Lions got within a score at the end, but couldn’t muster a drive that threatened the status quo.
BY THE NUMBERS:
14-1: Champagnat’s record entering today’s contest in the postseason. Their program is less than ten years old.
4-for-4: Champagnat’s made the postseason four times in school history, all four times playing for a state championship. Their record in title games is now 2-2.
5 – The number of times since 1975 that two unranked teams at the start of the playoffs played for a state title.
9 – The number of combined losses for the Champagnat and North Florida Christian. The highest number of losses in the playoff era (since 1963)
27 – The number of tackles combined by NFC’s Quan Myrick (14) and Jaxon Giles (13). The two combined for 212 on the season. Myrick had 15 in the semifinals against Victory Christian, and averaged 12 per game in the playoffs. He also totaled 28 tackles when you combine their game versus Zephyrhills Christian and Victory Christian. ZCA was actually victorious in that game in week two, 20-6.
7 – The combined number of field goals missed on the afternoon
238 – The number of kickoff return yards by NFC, setting the Eagles up on the afternoon with beautiful field position nearly the entire game.
NUMBERS OF CONSEQUENCE:
First Downs: Champagnat -17, NFC -11
Net yards lost rushing: Champagnat -49, NFC -16
Total offensive plays: Champagnat -65, NFC -45
Time of Possession: Champagnat -27:09, NFC -20:51
Red Zone Scores/Chances: Champagnat 3-4, (3TD’s), NFC 2-3 (2TD’s)
Points off turnovers: Champagnat -0, NFC -14
Penalties: Champagnat 6-30, NFC 16-108