by Hector Gonzalez

The Miami Gardens Bulldogs (13-0) have advanced to the championship round after defeating the Northside Panthers 20-12 in double-overtime Saturday at Miramar Ansin Sports Complex for the 90lbs division.

The young Bulldogs trailed all game, coming back behind the arms-of their quarterback #7 Marcel Williams who connected with his wide receiver #1 Khwan S Mickens for the game winning touchdown in double overtime.

“It feels good to win, and go to the super bowl,” a young happy Willams said. ” I am very proud of my team because they never gave up.”

Northside blew their chances after fumbling, which closed out their season in the second OT. Before that the Panthers led for most of the contest, placing the offense in the hands of  their running back #4 Lexington Joseph, who sprinted 50-yards for a score in the first quarter, which proved to be the only score of the first half.

After the game despite their season ending, #4 Lexington and his teammates kept their spirits high, taking a positive spin on the loss. “I am happy we didn’t give up, and next year we will go all the way to the championship , and do better than this year,” #4 Lexington said.

Missed extra points by both teams, was a repeated trend throughout the course of the game, and eventually proving costly for the Panthers late in the game. In the second quarter, it appeared to be a defensive battle, neither team wanting to give up any points, with big turnovers—Miami Gardens #4 Jacarie Peak intercepted a Northside pass, and the Panthers returned the favor, recovering a Bulldogs fumble with 1:42 left in the first half.

Penalties, incomplete passes, and wide-open dropped passes kept Northside with the lead at the start of the third quarter, until #7 Williams on fourth-and-long broke free for a 20-yard run to pick up a huge first down, then #2 Jaysen Soroh came up huge gain to-set up his teammate Williams for the tying score. Making it 6-6 at that point. #2 Soroh credited his the win as a complete team effort.

“This is the first time for us making it to a super bowl, and I am happy for my team, it’s very big for us,” #2 Soroh said. Things then became interesting in the fourth-quarter.With 3:27 remaining in the game, and overtime in everyone’s mind, Miami Gardens fumbled the ball, negating a positive drive in which #7 Williams threw a rocket pass to #4 Peak, ending the possession.
The Panthers then would capitalize on an 18-yard run by #4 Lexington Joseph, as Northside took the lead –12-6, but again missed the extra point with less than 1:00 to go in the game.

Miami Gardens would tie the game 12-12, behind the arms of their young-quarterback #7 Williams who again connected with his favorite target #2 Soroh for a 20-yard touchdown pass as time expired. The Bulldogs failed their extra point, causing the action to go into overtime.

With everyone on their feet, chants of defense, defense, defense could be heard from both sidelines,and indeed it was a defense tug-a-war during the first OT, but in the second, the winner came out to be the Miami Gardens Bulldogs.

“These young kids have a lot of football left in their lives, and to go to a super bowl of this caliber in early in their lives, is a big accomplishment,”  head coach Johnny C Dukes said, ” The field-goal in overtime was real big, it put the pressure on them to score and make it.”

Northside head coach Devon King said he was happy for his team to making it this far during only his second year of coaching them, and it’s something for his kids to build onto next year. Panther’s young running back #3 Jacquez Stuart agreed with his coach.” We did good, and tried our best, I am very proud of my team,” Stuart said.


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