Cortez Grace started the season as a linebacker and third string quarterback for the Deerfield Beach High School football team; however, he finished Friday night’s game as a hero.
As the song title states, Grace was simply “amazing” in the closing minutes as he overcame two earlier interceptions and capped a 90-yard drive in the final three minutes with a 1-yard TD plunge to lift host Deerfield Beach to a 14-12 victory in the inaugural McDougle Bowl at Deerfield Beach High School.
“I just wanted to win the game,” said Grace, who grew up across the street from Blanche Ely High School, and was 5 for 6 on the winning drive for 68 yards on the 13-play, 90-yard drive with 3:01 remaining in the game. “It felt good. I just came through for my team.”
Grace connected on a 30- yard pass to Antonio Cartagena and then hit Simeon Brown for 19 and 11 yards to march the Bucks down the field. With just 24 seconds left, Grace hit Randerick Gervin to the Tigers’ 1 before taking it in himself from a yard out.
“I don’t like to lose,” added Grace, who filled in for starting quarterback Jeff Joseph, who was sidelined with an injury. “I was just ready. I wasn’t thinking about nothing. I just put the (interceptions) in my past. I got my mind right. I played against those kids in youth football. This is big for me. It was special. It tugged at my heart. It was meant to happen.”
Blanche Ely’s Robert Williams ran for two first half touchdowns as the Tigers (0-2) rallied from an early deficit to take a 12-7 lead on the 40th anniversary of the series between the two schools. Williams finished the game with 10 carries for 89 yards. Deerfield (2-1) had taken a 7-0 lead on a Kobe Farrish 6-yard scoring run early in the contest.
“The kids hung in there,” said Deerfield Beach coach Allen Jackson. “We just had to believe. That’s what the kids did on the sideline. They started believing in themselves and the passes that Cortez threw were huge for us. Oh, my goodness. You couldn’t ask anything more from him. He stepped in and did an awesome job.”
The game was sponsored by brothers Jerome Mc- Dougle (1997 Ely grad) and Stockar McDougle (1996 Deerfield Beach grad), who both went on to play in the NFL.
The brothers, who served as honorary captains for their respective teams, presented the game’s trophy, in addition to awarding scholarships to the game MVPs – Blanche Ely’s Demeterice Bellamy and Deerfield Beach’s Jimmy Harper.
“This is awesome,” said Jerome, who played with the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants from 2003-2008. “It is great for me and my brother to come back to one of the greatest rivalries in Broward County and we were a part of it. It is just a great atmosphere for football. Both teams have had players go and play in the National Football League so it is good for us to come back.”
“This is very cool to give me and my brother a chance to come back here to this game that we actually played in when we were in high school, and to tie it around our foundation,” said Stockar, who has also helped purchase equipment for his alma mater.
“The rivalry never dies. Out of the whole household, I am the only one that didn’t go to Blanche Ely. I hear it all the time, no matter how old you get.”
Stockar said the game always represents “bragging rights?”
“Yes, it is winner take all,” Stockar added. “But it is all about pouring more resources into the community and getting the two booster clubs involved. We have a lot of athletes who have come out of these two programs and who have gone on and done great things. It was definitely time.”