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ORLANDO -- South Dade jumped to a 13-0 lead and trailed only once, as the Buccaneers pulled away from Apopka in a 41-28 victory to clinch the 8A title.
Florida State commit C.J. Worton tied a state record with three touchdown catches and Miami commit Tyre Brady sealed the victory by returning a fumble for a touchdown with less than two minutes remaining. The Brady touchdown ended the Apopka hopes of another last-minute comeback.
"We had a lot of set plays, two of my touchdowns were set plays where I just got open." Worton said afterwards, "Our coaches did a great job scouting them, getting everything ready. Our offensive game plan was great."
South Dade was the underdog coming in, but capitalized on turnovers and a rusty Apopka attack to jump to a 13-0 lead. Khalil Render threw touchdowns to C.J. Worton and Tyre Brady to give the Bucs a lead.
Then the Blue Darters, who set the state scoring record this year, took the lead on back to back scoring drives. The first was a methodical 9 play, 70 yard drive, capped by a J.J. Simmons run. That was followed a single play drive, a long pass to blocking back Christian Velasquez.
That lead didn't last long, Render found Tarviant Williams for a 71 yard touchdown pass.
South Dade took the opening kickoff and methodically moved down the field, with Worton catching a 49 yard Render pass to put the Bucs up 27-14.
Apopka came right back down the field, connecting with Robert Thomas out of the backfield to bring the ball to the Bucs 13. Simmons went in from two yards out to cut the lead to 27-21.
Apopka appeared to slow down the Buccaneer attack, but on fourth down from the Blue Darter 13, Worton caught a touchdown pass from Render in the corner of the end zone - his third of the night - to give South Dade a 34-21 lead.
Apopka pulled within six early in the fourth quarter, when Cox again connected with Simmons form 13 yards out.
South Dade, however, went on a clock-consuming 8 minute drive - that was extended by two pass interference penalties on the Darters. Apopka's Ben Bascom would become the hero - temporarily - for the Darters with a big interception in the end zone to thwart the drive.
However, on the return, Apopka was flagged for an illegal block - which gave the Blue Darters horrible field position and very little clock to work with.
In one final desperation pass on fourth down, the Darters tried a hook-and-ladder play - but the ball was fumbled and scooped up by Brady - who ran it back for the game-clinching score.
"We were looking for the hook and ladder," Brady described. "Two plays before that, he tried to pitch one back, but he saw me and Tyree Horton."
Render finished the game 16 of 20 for 304 yards, five touchdowns and one interception. He also ran 11 times for 99 yards. Worton had six catches for 159 yards and three scores.
Apopka was led by Robert Thomas' 64 yards on 16 carries. Cox finished the night 13-19 for 216 yards and two touchdowns.
South Dade, which was the district runner-up in 16-8A, finished the season at 14-1, while Apopka finished 13-2.