- Tyler Harden
Joquez Smith leads Jesuit to a 37-12 win over Miami Northwestern, advances to 6A State Championship
Photo Credit: Tampa Bay Times
TAMPA, FLORIDA— The Jesuit Tigers have had arguably the most momentum out of any team in the state of Florida this high school football season. The Tigers were 14-0 headed into the 6A state semifinals. They believed this was the team to bring a championship home, but the next team in their way was used to being alive deep in the playoffs. The Miami Northwestern Bulls came in with an abundance of talent yet again, and they knew what it took to make it to another state championship. But the Tigers have been hot all season long, and very few teams have been able to compete with them. Despite the talent and the speed Northwestern had, they just became another victim to the Jesuit Tigers.
Jesuit limited the run attack from Northwestern to start the game, and forced a punt on their first possession. The Tigers got started right away from their first drive. They started with great field position, and quarterback, Luke Knight, found wide receiver, Jarriett Buie Jr., for a touchdown to give the Tigers a 7-0 lead (PAT good).
Northwestern proved they can do damage from their air on their next possession. Quarterback, Taron Dickens, found wide receiver, Andy Jean, for a large gain and a first down to the Jesuit 18-yard line. Marlin Cochran was then able to run for an 18-yard touchdown to make the score 7-6 to end the first quarter (PAT no good).
Both teams’ defenses came up big to start the second quarter with sacks to force change in possession. But Jesuit’s defense had the edge. The Bulls fumbled the ball on a screen pass, and the Tigers recovered with excellent field position at the Northwestern 28-yard line. Penalties got the best of Jesuit, however, and they were forced to punt on 4th and long. The Tigers had more luck on their next drive. Northwestern bailed them out of a 4th and 1 with a penalty, giving them an automatic first down and keeping the drive alive. Luke Knight was then able to find Luke Conroy for a 19-yard touchdown, making the score 14-6 (PAT good).
The Tigers then recovered a muffed kick return by the Bulls, and took over at the Northwestern 23-yard line. They couldn’t get in the end zone, however, and were forced to settle for a field goal. After Northwestern was forced to punt after two incomplete passes, the half ended with Jesuit in the lead 17-6.
Taron Dickens led the Bulls down the field to start the third quarter after Jesuit was forced to punt. But the Tigers contained them, forcing a turnover on downs from the Jesuit 22-yard line. After Luke Knight found wide receiver, Jaydn Girard, for a first down on 3rd and 9, running back, Joquez Smith, did the rest with a 58-yard touchdown down the left sideline (PAT good).
The Tigers kept going, as linebacker Troy Bowles intercepted a pass, and gave the offense the ball back at the Northwestern 45-yard line. Joquez Smith then broke loose for a big 40-yard carry to the 5-yard line to end the third quarter with Jesuit up 24-6.
Joquez Smith capped off the drive for the Tigers with a 5-yard touchdown to start the fourth quarter, making the score 30-6 (PAT no good). Northwestern needed to score this drive, and Taron Dickens was the guy to get it done. After he connected with Daverrick Jenkins for a 1st down to the Jesuit 37-yard line, he scrambled and found Andy Jean in the end zone for a 37-yard touchdown to make the score 30-12 (PAT no good).
But Joquez Smith was too powerful for the Tigers for the Bulls to have any time to catch up. He got the Tigers going once again with a run into Northwestern territory for a large gain to the 27-yard line. Shortly after, he capped off the drive with a 27-yard touchdown (PAT good). After the Tigers forced a turnover on downs from the Bulls one last time, they were able to walk away with a 37-12 win, and a trip to a state title game.
Jesuit keeps their undefeated season alive, and improves their record to 14-0. The Tigers will advance to the 6A State Championship, and will face Pine Forest on Saturday, December 18th at 7 PM ET. Miami Northwestern’s season comes to a close, and they finish with a 10-4 record.