APOPKA -- On a cool Friday night in Apopka, the red-hot Blue Darters stayed that way, dominating Orlando Timber Creek from the outset for a 56-14 Region 8A-1 semifinal victory over the Wolves.
It was the ninth victory in a row for the 10-2 Blue Darters who landed a spot in the Region 8A-1 final that will be played November 30 at Neptune Beach Fletcher, a 28-6 winner over Sanford Seminole. It will be a matchup of two district runners-up.
Apopka (10-2) surged to a 21-0 lead in the first 8:10 of the game, building the lead to 35-0 by halftime. And when the Blue Darters scored on the opening possession of the third quarter, it slammed the door shut on any type of miracle comeback by Timber Creek (10-2).
The Blue Darters rushed for 366 yards and passed for 105.
"We clicked tonight," Apopka coach Rick Darlington said, adding that the Wolves defended Apopka's high-scoring offense like he thought they would, allowing him to call the plays he thought would work.
It was the fifth game this season that Apopka has scored at least 56 points. During the nine-game winning streak, the Blue Darters have averaged 50.1 points per game. For the season, Apopka is averaging 42 points per game.
But it was the Apopka defense that received the most words of praise from coach Darlington, as they held Timber Creek's Jacques Patrick to just 54 yards rushing, most of which came after the game was decided.
Just a sophomore, Patrick led Central Florida in rushing with more than 2,000 yards and has already received substantial interest from such college coaches as Nick Saban of Alabama.
"To shut him down like we did was important," Darlington said. "We didn't want to be in a track meet with them.
"That's the story when we shut the guy down like that."
Apopka's defense did just that, holding Patrick to just 21 yards through his first 13 carries. As a team, Timber Creek rushed for a net 49 yards.
Meanwhile, the Blue Darters were humming on offense, not committing any turnovers, unlike last week when Apopka had four turnovers in the first half of a 45-35 first-round victory over Orlando University.
Senior running back Jevric Blocker led the way offensively for Apopka, as he has done much of the season. He gained 151 yards on 15 carries, scoring twice. He also threw a nine-yard touchdown pass to tight end Trey Hendrickson for Apopka's fourth score of the game.
Junior quarterback Zack Darlington, son of the head coach, also had big game, rushing for 137 yards and two touchdowns in addition to his 96 yards and one score through the air on 6-of-8 passing.
Timber Creek did have 254 yards passing on 13-of-26, but the Wolves don't want to throw that many times. A running team by nature, Timber Creek rushed the ball just 21 times and three of those were sacks of quarterback Stuckey Mosley by the Apopka defense.
The Wolves threatened to score on the first possession of the game when Patrick completed a 33-yard halfback pass to Javonte Seabury on the first play of the contest. After two more first downs, Timber Creek was threatening with a first-and-goal at the Apopka 7-yard line, but the Darters held and a 29-yard field try by Christian Pereira was just wide left.
It took Apopka just six plays to travel 80 for the score and grab the lead they would never give up. Blocker got the score from 36 yards out as the scatback juked his way into the end zone with 7:44 left in the opening period. As he did on all eight Apopka touchdowns, senior placekicker Brett Wilson added the extra point.
On the second play following the first score, Mosley was sacked from behind by Apopka's Deon Lowman and the ball popped out with Apopka recovering on the Timber Creek 19. Blocker again did the scoring honors for the Blue Darters as, three plays later, he scampered in from nine yards out and Apopka led 14-0 with 5:49 left in the first quarter.
Apopka's special teams accounted for the next score, as Lowman again got in the action, blocking Timber Creek's punt. Senior Garrett Spek picked up the loose ball at the 4-yard line and easily scored for the Blue Darters, giving Apopka a 21-0 lead with 3:50 left in the first quarter.
On its next possession, Timber Creek went for it on fourth-and-1 from its own 39, but Patrick fumbled ball, as he never had solid possession of it and when he was hit by Apopka's Billy Caughell, the ball squirted loose and Robert Thomas recovered for the Blue Darters.
That was all Apopka needed, as on a third-and-goal from the Timber Creek 9-yard line, Blocker became a passer, tossing to a wide-open Hendrickson for the first of the tight end's two scoring receptions.
Coach Darlington said he put that in Apopka's playbook just this week. "I thought they would never expect Blocker to throw it."
That gave Apopka a 28-0 lead just 2:14 into the second period.
The Blue Darters continued the scoring onslaught on their next possession when Zack Darlington ran 26 yards for the score with 4:57 left in the second period. That gave Apopka a 35-0 lead they would take into the locker room at halftime.
Darlington hit Hendrickson for a 30-yard touchdown pass on the first possession of the second half, as the tight end dragged a Timber Creek defender several yards into the end zone.
Timber Creek got on the board on its next possession thanks to Patrick, but it was through the air, as Mosley tossed a short out to him and the big sophomore broke a tackle and rambled 91 yards for the score.
Apopka quickly answered when Darlington ran 78 yards for a score just two plays later. Daquon Isom scored Apopka's final touchdown of the game on a one-yard run late in the third.
Patrick tallied on an 11-yard run early in the fourth for the final score of the contest.
Apopka punted just once in the game and that was late in the contest.