For the third time this season, host Blanche Ely had a bad taste of déjà vu.
It was the first home game for the Tigers after spending the first five weeks on the road. It also marked the debut of a new, state-of-the-art scoreboard that was donated by 2008 Ely grad Patrick Peterson, now with the Arizona Cardinals, former head coach William Facteau and other community leaders.
The product on the field was competitive, but, for the third time this season, Blanche Ely let a late lead slip away and lost in the closing minute of the contest.
Maurquice Flowers rushed for 114 yards and two touchdowns, including a 2-yard run, with 57 seconds remaining, to propel Plantation to a 31-23 victory over Blanche Ely in a non-district game last Friday night that also marked the return of former Tigers coach Steve Davis.
Davis, who spent 10 years at Blanche Ely and won the Class 5A state title at the school in 2002, won for the second consecutive season at his former school. He is 2-2 in regular season games, not including a kickoff classic win during that span. Plantation won 32-26 last season.
Flowers’ second score capped an 8-play, 93-yard drive to hand the Tigers its third loss in the closing minute this season. It also dropped games to Deerfield Beach and Miami Northwestern in the waning seconds earlier this year. Flowers and Antwuan Haynes each broke the century mark on the ground for the Colonels (4-2). Haynes finished with 101 yards on 14 carries.
“That’s really cool,” Davis said of the scoreboard. “I am a big time Ely guy. I spent a lot of years here. I really think the new scoreboard and all of the other stuff is well deserved. Hopefully, it was a little distraction for them. This was a real important game. It is not a district game, but ,when you look at the power rankings for Broward County, it lets you know where you stand.”
Blanche Ely (2-4) christened its new $100,000 scoreboard on a 38-yard field goal by Carmeley Charite with 3 minutes left in the first quarter to take a 3-0 lead.
Plantation took the ensuing kickoff and marched 80 yards in nine plays to take a 7-3 lead on a 4-yard scoring toss from Archie Banton to Yvon St. Louis with 22 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
Blanche Ely, which also debuted new uniforms, capitalized on an interception by Terrance Henley to grab a 10-7 lead on a 5-yard scoring run by Demeterice Bellamy with 2:54 remaining in the first half. The Colonels took the lead shortly before halftime when Banton broke three tackles and bulled in from 10-yards out on a quarterback keeper.
The Tigers capitalized on another turnover deep in Plantation territory and converted it into another score. Zackery Purdue found Therrell Gosier for a 13-yard scoring play with 2:30 left in the third quarter for a 17-14 lead.
Plantation took the ensuing kickoff and moved 80 yards in 11 plays capped by a 7-yard scoring run by Flowers for a 21-17 lead. The Tigers answered on a 33-yard scoring toss from Perdue to Thomas Geddis to seize a 23-21 lead before the visiting Colonels battled back.
“I think we had to eliminate the big play because Ely is a big play team,” Davis added. “We were able to control the ground game and the corner backs played well. I think a win over a good team like Ely will really catapult our season tonight. We have to keep moving forward.”
Blanche Ely coach Nakia Jenkins admitted his team is young, but needs to play four quarters of football.
“We need to learn to finish,” said Jenkins, who is in his first year at the school as head coach. “We should be easily 5-1 right now. We have to put teams away early. It is definitely motivation. I tell these guys all of the time they don’t know how good they can be. We are going to be really good once we put it all together.”
If he were doling out mid-season grades, Jenkins said he would give his team a C-plus.
“We are very young,” Jenkins said. “We are about 80 percent of our JV team from last year. We are get- ting better. Hopefully, at the back end of the season, we can put a lot of things together … We have to keep building and stay healthy. We have to get them together, rally, work on technique and we are at the back end of the season … and get district champs. We just have to take it one game at a time.”
Blanche Ely Athletic Director Andrea Johnson was thrilled with the new scoreboard.
“It is really cool,” Johnson said. “It really goes with the state-of-the-art field that we have here. The community fought really hard to get it. They just beat the ground getting the donations so we could have this for our school, for our kids and for our community.
“Patrick Peterson and Bill Facteau were the major donors,” Johnson added. “The installation took a week. It’s amazing. The capabilities it has, the clarity of the screen … it is a wonderful addition to the stadium. We are still working out the kinks and figuring out all of the wonderful technology, but we will be able to show replays, advertisements and a lot of other cool stuff. We have cameras and all of that.”