Thu Dec 23 04:33pm EST
Tampa (Fla.) Jefferson High's Class 3A state title victory against Miami (Fla.) Norland High was one of the more heated state championship games in a full slate last weekend. When the see-saw conflict was finally out of reach, tempers got out of control, leading to a rare state title game stoppage before the contest was actually complete.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, the championship matchup was stopped with 0:03 on the clock after a brawl erupted between the two teams along on of the sidelines. You can see the play that precipitated the fight above, including a hit from Jefferson safety Keivonte Turk, who moved to the line of scrimmage on a two point conversion and delivered a big shot to a Norland receiver after he had dropped a pass on the conversion attempt.
In all, three Norland players and two of their Jefferson counterparts were technically ejected for the fracas, though their departures never had any impact on the game, which was halted immediately.
"Our players are taught to take a knee when something like that happens, but we had two players run out on the field," Norland coach Daryle Heidelburg told the Sentinel.
The ugly game-ending incident overshadowed a game which proved to be much better than most expected. Norland struggled to get its offense moving early, a slog which gave Jefferson plenty of time to build up 22-7 lead behind Florida's Mr. Football, Quentin Williams. Yet just when it looked like Norland was down and out, the Miami program battled back, eventually getting as close as the 10-point final score, which could have been eight (and technically within range of an onside kick return for a touchdown of tying the game).
Much of the credit for Jefferson's victory was due Williams, who finished with five total touchdowns -- three through the air and two on the ground -- in his final high school game. Yet, for many, those memories will be clouded by an ugly incident that occurred just before time officially ran out on Norland's season.