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October 4, 2013
In a battle of 8A-4 titans, national #61 Apopka (6-1) overcame a high-octane offense from the visiting West Orange Warriors with a rushing explosion of its own en route to a 52-35 victory over the previously unbeaten Warriors (5-1).
The win is the Blue Darters 15th consecutive in a game that some locals thought could end the multiple decade-long winning streak for Apopka in the historic West Orange County series.
Apopka entered the game as a clear favorite from national and statewide pundits and got things going early in the first quarter. Fullback-converted fullback Chandler Cox was a force on the ground, capping a three play, 74 yard drive with a 36 yard quarterback scramble to put the Blue Darters ahead, 7-0.
West Orange would answer quickly, recovering a fumble on the Darters next possession to set the Warriors up in Apopka territory. Quarterback Hayden Griffitts would use the passing attack to get into the red zone and Jamarcus Federick made his intentions known with a tackle-breaking 10 yard touchdown run to even the score at 7 at the midpoint of the first quarter.
That lead was short-lived, however, as Apopka running back Robert Thomas ripped off a 45 yard gain to the West Orange 15 yard line and capped the easy-looking touchdown drive with his first of three rushing touchdowns for the night to put Apopka back ahead, 14-7.
Then, following a West Orange punt, Thomas and Cox continued to pour on the rushing yards, as Thomas scored his second touchdown of the game to make the score 21-7 in favor of Apopka in the second quarter.
West Orange then tacked on 6 points with a 38-yard Federick touchdown run, but Apopka showed that they are among the best offenses in the nation with two consecutive touchdown drives and a long field goal to distance the margin to 38-13 at the half.
Heading into the break, the Blue Darters had an eye-opening 449 yards, most of them accrued on the ground.
West Orange made a statement in the third quarter as Hayden Griffitts hit twin brother Kyle Griffitts for a touchdown, but the tune of the night stayed true as the Apopka offense continued to pour on points despite a fourth quarter flurry by receiver Garrett Johnson, quarterback Hayden Griffitts and the West Orange air attack. West Orange would cut the margin to 52-35 late in the fourth quarter, but it wasn't enough as Apopka's offense ran out the clock with its reliable running game in big-chunk fashion.
The win is Apopka's sixth consecutive following a close week one loss to national #16 Byrnes (S.C.) and has cemented the Blue Darters as a one of a few favorites to win the Class 8A State Title. Despite key injuries, the Blue Darters are adapting.