It may not have been the perfect ending to a perfect season but Dr. Phillips Football represented the school and the community extraordinarily well in their 42-27 loss to Miami Central in the State Championship Saturday night. After DP (14-1) forced a three and out, the Panthers jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead on their first possession when junior quarterback Nick Patti found Chris Gallon down the middle of the field for a 30-yard touchdown. On the Rockets’ ensuing possession, senior cornerback Ryan Luckett stepped in front of a pass and took it 61 yards for a touchdown and DP was up 14-0 at the end of the first quarter. Shawn Moffitt booted a 32-yard field goal just 14 seconds into the second quarter and things looked good for the Panthers, up 17-0.
Central would fight back, though, as expected. After a 29-yard touchdown pass sliced the deficit to 17-7, Central returned the favor with a defensive score of their own, intercepting a pass at the DP 18 and taking it in to cut the margin to 17-14 with just under eight minutes to go in the half. The Panthers needed little more than a minute to get back on the board again, driving eighty yards in just five plays as Chris Gallon out-jumped a Central defender and raced 50 yards for his second score of the night to put DP up 24-14. With just 18 seconds left in the half, however, Central struck again on a busted play. An errant snap was picked up by quarterback Rakeem Cato and he found a wide open Devonta Freeman in the flat and Freeman did the rest, weaving his way in and out of traffic for the score. DP still had a 24-21 lead, but Central certainly had the momentum.
In the third quarter, Central took their first lead at the 4:06 mark on a 13-yard touchdown pass for a 28-24 advantage. After Dee Hart’s 60-yard kickoff return gave the Panthers possession in Central territory, DP’s drive stalled inside the Central ten yard line and the Panthers settled for a 26-yard field goal by Shawn Moffitt to close the gap to 28-27. With heavy fog rolling in, Central went to the ground attack, driving 80 yards in 14 plays in 6:27 to take a 35-27 lead.
DP refused to quit, however. With under six minutes left in the game, DP overcame 2nd and 24 at their own 10 when Chris Gallon hauled in a 26-yard reception for a first down at the 36. On 3rd and ten, Patti found Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix for a 13-yard gain to the 49. Central was flagged for consecutive pass interference penalties which gave DP a first down at the 21. After Patti ran for seven yards down to the Central 14, two plays later, on fourth and three, Central made a phenomenal interception on the right sideline to seal the victory. They would go on to add a touchdown shortly thereafter for the final margin, 42-27.
For complete statistics of the State Championship game, click here.