DAVIE - It was all about revenge and redemption for No. 4 University School.
In last year's Class 3A regional final, the Suns were eliminated from the postseason by No. 3 American Heritage (Delray Beach), which went on to win the 3A state championship in 2011. U-School was clearly intent on its mission to avenge that crushing loss from a season ago.
Led primarily by sophomore RB Jordan Scarlett, the Suns scored 20 unanswered points in the second half to pull out a surprisingly not-so-difficult 34-17 win over the Stallions in their Class 3A-Region 4 championship game.
With the victory, University (10-0 record) ended American Heritage's 22-game winning streak and will move on to next Friday night's Class 3A state semifinal game (Nov. 30; 7:30 p.m.) at Clearwater Central Catholic.
"To be honest with you, this is the only game I've been nervous about all season long," University head coach Roger Harriot said. "We wanted to exceed expectations and perform to the best of our abilities on both sides of the ball."
University did that in dominating fashion - particularly in the second half.
Down 17-12 going into the third quarter, the once-tight game suddenly went into overdrive as Scarlett (29 carries, 248 rush yards, 3 TDs) powered his way through the Stallions defense in a pivotal 4-play, 85-yard drive that culminated with a 50-yard run to the end zone that gave University a 18-17 lead.
Suns senior quarterback Michael White (11-for-26 passing, 107 yards) lobbed a two-point conversion throw to senior 4-star WR Jordan Cunningham, whose catch in the end zone extended University's lead to 20-17 with 11:01 left in the third quarter.
University, which had 13 first downs in the second half (22 total), scored again later in the third quarter on a 10-yard run into the end zone by Scarlett with 2:56 left. The Suns, up 26-17 at that point, never looked back the rest of the way.
"Scarlett is an extraordinary individual," Harriot said. "He'll tell you he wouldn't have been able to get it done without his offensive line and the key plays his offensive coordinator put him in."
Meanwhile, the Suns defense - aside from giving up an 85-yard touchdown strike from Stallions senior ATH Marcus Davis to younger brother and sophomore ATH Trenard Davis that gave American Heritage a 7-0 with 11:44 left in the first quarter - did a good job of containing the Davis brothers and senior 5-star RB Greg Bryant for almost the entire game.
University, which forced three turnovers - including a 27-yard interception return for a touchdown by sophomore LB Skai Moore that completed the game's scoring with 2:13 left in the game - limited Bryant to just 11 carries for 43 yards.
"Our defense held it down," Harriot said.
As for American Heritage, other than Davis's 85-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter and his 5-yard touchdown run in the second - the Stallions were up 14-10 with 8:46 left in the first half - it was not a pretty sight for most of the game.
Davis (12-for-26 passing, 232 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT; 16 carries, 50 yards, 1 TD) lost a fumble as he tried to secure the ball off a punt return inside Heritage's 5-yard line early in the first quarter. As a result, the Stallions turnover directly led to University's first score, a 1-yard run by Scarlett into the end zone that tied the game up at 7-7 with 10:20 left in the first.
And during the second quarter, as American Heritage was trying to punt the ball, a bad snap sailed into the end zone, which allowed the Suns to benefit from a safety that cut the Stallions lead to 14-12 with 5:21 left in the half.
"We just didn't play well against them," American Heritage head coach Stacy Sizemore said of University. "They did a great job of running the football on us. They're not as one-dimensional as they were in the past. We made a lot of mistakes throughout the game. You can't do all that and expect to win."
With the loss, American Heritage-Delray finished its season with an 11-1 record.