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December 7, 2013

Johnson, Hawks survive in three OT

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SEFFNER - Noah Johnson knew his team needed him facing third down and 11 in the game's third overtime.

That's when Johnson decided to take the Hawks season into his own hands, rushing for what would become the game-winning 11 yard touchdown scramble as Armwood (14-0) fended off Bartram Trail (8-6) 35-28 in a wild triple overtime Class 6A semi final.

The win propels Armwood to the Class 6A state championship game, where the Hawks will face national juggernaut Miami Central (13-1), and ends an improbable and well-deserved season for a Bartram Trail team that began the year 0-5 but went on to win eight consecutive games against high quality opponents.

Armwood started the game solid offensively, moving the ball down the field with ease before punting to the Bartram Trail 1 yard line. Just two plays after the pinpoint punt, Hawk cornerback Jordan Griffin broke on a mistimed Bartram Trail pass and returned it to the house for a 7-0 Armwood lead to electrify the crowd at the midway point of the first quarter.

Bartram Trail then failed to muster up anything on their next possession and Armwood took advantage, making quick work of a 74 yard touchdown drive capped by a Hunter Zilbar touchdown reception to give the Hawks a 14-0 lead.

It took the halftime break for Bartram Trail to get warm, and did they ever. The Bears marched 80 yards in just 5 plays on the opening drive of the third quarter, capped by a David Coleman touchdown rush to bring the score to 14-7.

Bartram Trail quarterback PJ Blazekowski then capped another long drive on a touchdown pass with just under four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, and the game would go into overtime after a desperation field goal attempt by Armwood with no time left on the clock sailed wide.

The first two overtimes saw these two heavyweights trade scores, first on touchdown passes and then on rushing scores in the second overime to know the score up at 28. Noah Johnson's brilliant touchdown scramble on third and long in the third overtime would place the game in the hands of the Armwood defense, and they would answer, as Dederallo Blue broke up the game's final pass attempt to send the Hawks to the championship round and their loyal crowd into a frenzy.

Armwood now has the task of facing Miami Central (12-1) in a game of highly touted and nationally ranked teams in the Class 6A state championship. Expect a very large crowd in the Citrus Bowl next week, as both schools can bring out a big following.

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