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Jaquarri Powell (5), Tanner Ingle (1) and Joe Gulla (42) combine for a tackle in DP's 17-7 State Championship victory over Delray Beach Atlantic (2017)

12/10/2017 10:31:00 PM

For 365 days, Dr. Phillips Football had been haunted by the demons that destroyed their dreams of a State Championship in 2016, but rather than succumb to them, the Panthers used them as motivation for redemption. Saturday night in the cold confines of Camping World Stadium, DP Football exorcised those same demons, both individually and as a team, with a 17-7 victory over Delray Beach Atlantic to bring home their first State Championship in school history. One year ago, then-sophomore Cameron Williams had been flagged for pass interference which allowed Miami Southridge to continue a touchdown drive that led to their 14-10 victory over DP. Saturday night, Williams, now a veteran linebacker with 137 tackles this season, intercepted an Atlantic pass in the fourth quarter and returned it eight yards for the game-sealing touchdown. One year ago, then-sophomore Jaquarri Powell intercepted a Southridge pass and was on his way to scoring a touchdown but was tripped up by a shoestring tackle, resulting in no points. Saturday night, Powell, an unquestioned team leader and captain, was an assassin on defense, registering seven tackles, including a crushing tackle on a fake punt and a fourth quarter sack for a ten-yard loss that effectively buried Atlantic's bid for a comeback. One year ago, Dr. Phillips saw a ten-point fourth quarter lead evaporate in the span of two drives. Saturday night, the Panthers grabbed a ten point lead, added seven more and delivered the knockout blow on defense they had trained for...and envisioned...every single day for an entire year.

Coming into the game, the Panthers knew they had to stick to the gameplan on both sides of the football. Offensively, they had to secure the football, sustain drives and take advantage of field position. Defensively, they had to create turnovers, swarm tackle and prevent the big plays that had been a staple in Atlantic's success this year. And it worked. While the offense did not put up eye-opening numbers, they didn't need to. DP's defense accounted for two touchdowns, held Atlantic deep in its own end of the field on eight of their 12 drives and eliminated the Eagles' rushing attack to just 19 yards on 34 carries. 

Midway through the opening quarter Atlantic faced third and one at their 29 and handed off to their bruising fullback up the middle but senior defensive tackle Brice Ingram met him in the hole and buried him for no gain to force a punt. That set the stage for junior linebacker Japerri Powell, who charged in untouched from the left side, blocked the Atlantic punt at the 20, scooped it up at the nine and took it to the house to give DP a 7-0 lead. That was just the first of many highlights for Powell, who finished with 11 tackles, six of them for a loss, including three sacks. Atlantic was clearly shaken on their next drive. On second and six at the 34, senior defensive end Joe Gulla broke into the backfield and chased down the quarterback for a sack and a loss of six yards. One  play later, it was Japerri Powell again, tearing through the line and sacking the quarterback for a loss of 11, forcing the second of six first-half punts. Later in the second quarter, Japerri Powell drove the Atlantic quarterback into the turf again with a sack for a loss of 12 to force a punt that gave the Panthers possession at the Atlantic 44. Senior Devodney Alford busted into the secondary for a 14-yard gain and senior quarterback BeSean McCray followed up with a 16-yard keeper for a first down at the 14. Alford carried again for a gain of seven but the drive stalled two plays later and senior kicker Sterling Stockwell split the uprights from 28 yards out to put the Panthers up 10-0 through the half.

Atlantic had gained only 39 yards of total offense in the first half and virtually nothing on the ground so the second half gameplan was to get the ball in the hands of their talented receiving corps and use whatever tricks they had in their bag to establish some momentum. On their opening possession of the third quarter, that backfired. Facing fourth and one at their own 29, Atlantic faked the punt but the back was drilled immediately by senior defensive tackle Christian Williams and Jaquarri Powell for no gain, giving the ball back to DP on downs. Midway through the third quarter, Atlantic's next offensive possession drove them into DP territory for the first time all game. A two-yard run on fourth and short gave them a first down at the 49 and one play later, a 13-yard pickup set the Eagles up with a first down at the DP 38. Three plays later, Atlantic opted not to try a 47-yard field goal on fourth down and instead, pitched the ball outside but Cameron Williams chased down the running back and knocked him out of bounds a yard short of the stick to give DP the ball once again. Atlantic's final possession of the third quarter met the same fate as their other drives. The Eagles drove 49 yards in six plays down to the DP 13 looking to break through but Brice Ingram and Japerri Powell crashed through the line and drove the quarterback down for a ten-yard loss. On fourth and 22 from the 23, Atlantic heaved a pass toward the left side of the end zone but senior safety Tanner Ingle knocked it away for the third consecutive turnover on downs.

The DP offense took over at the 23 and needed to chew time off the clock but could not pick up a first down in their previous two possessions. Things were different on this drive, though. On third and five from the DP 28, sophomore receiver Trey Schyck caught a pass from McCray in the right flat and dove for a first down across the 36 yard line to move the chains. After a pair of runs by McCray for eight yards sent the Panthers into the fourth quarter, the senior quarterback zipped a third down pass into the hands of junior Devon Buckhanon and the 6'3 receiver churned ahead for a gain of 19 and another DP first down. While the drive stalled at the Atlantic 34, the success was in the four minutes burned off the clock and gave Sterling Stockwell another opportunity to flip the field with a punt down to the Atlantic 15. Still trailing 10-0, Atlantic immediately went to the air but it proved disastrous. On second and ten, Cameron Williams, who was lined up at the 20, saw the Atlantic running back flare out to the right and immediately saw the screen pass coming. Before the quarterback could even see him, Williams charged to his right, intercepted the pass with one hand and in a split second was in the endzone nearly buried under a pile of Panthers. For Williams, who has so consistently and quietly delivered all season long, this was his defining play of the year and the redemption he so richly deserved.

With a 17-0 lead and just over nine minutes remaining, the DP defense was tested again on Atlantic's ensuing possession. Completions for 18 and 23 yards gave the Eagles a first down at the DP 35 but one play later, Jaquarri Powell slipped into the backfield and drilled the quarterback for a ten-yard loss to forever wash away his disappointment of a year ago as well. Three plays later, on fourth and five, Cameron Williams put the exclamation point on a perfect personal performance, breaking up a pass to give the football back to DP. While Atlantic did score on their final drive of the game to make it 17-7, senior receiver Michael Fox recovered the onside kick with just over three minutes remaining. DP still needed to get a first down to run out the clock and what better way to do that then by putting the ball in the capable hands of Devodney Alford and BeSean McCray. On third and five, McCray knifed through the line for a gain of 12 and a first down, Devodney Alford ran one more time for four yards and that was all the Panthers needed as the clock ran down to zero, icing DP's first-ever Football State Championship.

Defensively, DP was led by Japerri Powell (11 tackles, six for loss, three sacks, blocked punt for touchdown), Cameron Williams (ten tackles, two for loss, interception for touchdown), Stephen Dix (eight tackles), Jaquarri Powell (seven tackles, three for loss, sack) Bryan Bell-Anderson (seven tackles, two pass break-ups), Brice Ingram (six tackles, three for loss, sack), and Christian Williams (six tackles, two for loss).

Much has been written about our Football program over the years. One thing many have stated is that while being a powerhouse program, DP could never be considered elite until they won that elusive State Championship. The wait is over, and the crown fits. Congratulations to head coach Rodney Wells who, in seven years at the helm, upholds the standard of DP excellence without compromise on and off the field. Congratulations also to the finest team of assistant coaches in the state of Florida: Jason Jackson, Steve Breitbeil, Tony Gulla, Steve Schyck, Riki Smith, Ken Jones, Boris Jackson, Lorenzo Martinez, Adam Sitter, Roderick Ryles, Bryan Ingrande, David Aubrey and Adrian Bouie. Most importantly, congratulations to our graduating seniors...all of them...who refused to let the disappointment of a year ago keep them from realizing just how great they could be. The sacrifices they made for each other, their coaches and their school...their refusal to let self come before service...is the reason they are champions today, tomorrow and forever. While the championship rings will take time to be ordered and delivered, join us Friday night in the gym for a special recognition of our State Champions during halftime of our Men's Basketball game vs. Olympia. Tipoff for that game is expected to be 7:00 pm.

Name Attempts Yards Average Long TD
BeSean McCray 16 80 5.0 16 0
Devodney Alford 22 59 2.7 15 0
Brandon Fields 3 3 1.0 4 0
TEAM 2 -23 -12.5 -10 0
Total 43 119 2.8 16 0

Name Comps Att Yards TD Int Pct
BeSean McCray 6 17 79 0 0 35.3%
Total 6 17 79 0 0 35.3%

Name Receptions Yards Average Long TD
Davarius Bargnare 1 38 38.0 38 0
Devon Buckhanon 1 19 19.0 19 0
Trey Schyck 1 8 8.0 8 0
Michael Fox 2 8 4.0 0 0
Devodney Alford 1 6 6.0 6 0
Total 6 79 13.2 38 0

Return Yardage
Name Total Punt Kickoff Int Fumble Bl Kick TD
Japerri Powell 9 0 0 0 0 1-9 1
Tanner Ingle 9 0 1-9 0 0 0 0
Cameron Williams 8 0 0 1-8 0 0 1
Davarius Bargnare 6 1-6 0 0 0 0 0
Total 32 1-6 1-9 1-8 0 1-9 2

Name Punts Avg Long FGM/FGA Long XPM/XPA Pts
Sterling Stockwell 6 36.5 44 1-2 28 2-2 5
Total 6 36.5 44 1-2 28 2-2 5

Team Totals
Category Dr. Phillips Atlantic
Points 17 7
Rushing Yards 43-119 (2.8) 34-19 (0.6)
Passing/Comp/Att/Yards 6-17-79 (35.3%) 14-32-181 (43.8%)
Total Yards 198 200
First Downs 13 11
Third Down Conv % 6-16 (37.5%) 2-14 (14.3%)
Fourth Down Conv % 0-1 1-5 (20.0%)
Turnovers 0 1
Penalties 10-77 17-114
Avg. Field Position DP 41 A 23

Atlantic 0 0 0 7 0 7
Dr. Phillips 7 3 0 7 0 17

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