Deerfield Beach coach Allen Jackson had a feeling his team might start off slowly in its District 11-8A opener against rival Douglas on Friday night.
After all, the Bucks hadn’t been challenged in their opening two contests as they outscored Northeast, 37-0, and Blanche Ely, 46-6, before having last week off with a bye.
“We knew this was going to happen,” Jackson said. “Both teams came into the game undefeated and a win is a win. We’ll take it any way we can get it. This is a big, big, big win. Deerfield hasn’t been 3-0 to start the season in a while.”
Senior running back Aeron McNeal rushed for 117 yards and three touchdowns as visiting Deerfield Beach rallied for the come-from-behind 47- 31 district victory over Douglas.
McNeal was ejected from the contest with 8:30 remaining in the game after being called for his second personal foul penalty in the game. It is unknown what his status will be for this week’s game against Coral Springs. The Bucks were penalized for 160 yards in the game.
“We aren’t sure what is going to happen with that,” Jackson said. “Our athletic director (Vinnie Tozzi) was going to talk to the officials and see what is up.”
Douglas (2-1, 0-1) took a 7-0 lead on a 15-yard scoring toss from Brett Israel to Tate Lehito. The score capped a 9- play, 68-yard drive. Deerfield Beach answered as it took the ensuing kickoff and marched 77 yards in eight plays as McNeal scored the first of his two touchdowns in the first half to tie the game at 7-7.
The Eagles scored off a fake punt to grab a 13-7 lead as Israel found Corey May with a short pass and he went 41 yards for the score with 11:35 remaining in the first half.
Deerfield Beach (3-0, 1-0) took the lead for good at 14- 13 on a 34-yard scoring run by Brandon Powell with 8:22 left in the first half. Douglas was driving for a go-ahead score late in the first half, however Israel’s pass was deflected and Powell returned the interception 53 yards to set up McNeal’s 48-yard TD run with 1:24 remaining in the first half.
“That gave us the momentum right there,” Jackson said. “It was what we needed and we were able to straighten things out after that.”
Douglas’ Davian Daley pulled the Eagles to within 21-19 as he scored on a 1- yard run to cap a nearly 9- minute drive to open the second half.
Deerfield’s McNeal broke off right tackle and scampered 20 yards to push the lead the 27-19 with 1:03 left in the third and the Bucks iced the game on a 73-yard TD pass from Danarious Graham to Leonard Scott with 8:30 remaining in the game. Douglas closed to within 34-25 on a 5-yard TD run by Khalil Herbert; however, Justin Morgan caught a 20-yard scoring toss from Graham, and then returned an onside kick 50 yards for the score to up the lead to 47-31.
The Eagles added a 24-yard scoring toss from Israel to Ryan Allison in the fourth quarter.