Gators put bite on Lions

BELLE GLADE — The Glades Day Gators overcame two fumbles early in the first quarter and held on to beat the First Baptist Academy Lions 49-39 in the regional quarterfinal playoff on Nov. 9.

Glades Day junior quarterback Anthony McPhee had 132 yards on the ground with three rushing touchdowns along with 188 passing yards and three more touchdowns through the air.

The Glades Day offense put on a great show for the packed home crowd in Belle Glade that came out to support their Gators in the playoffs. But it was the Gators’ defense that would put Glades Day on the board first.

The Lions opened up the game with a long, time-consuming drive and looked poised to march methodically down the field and jump out to an early lead. But, once again, McPhee showed off his play-making ability, this time at cornerback. McPhee made a great break on a pass thrown by Lions sophomore quarterback Brady Dean and jumped in front of senior Lions wide receiver Kyle Batiato to intercept the ball and rumble into the end zone for a 48-yard touchdown run.

Lake Okeechobee News/Richard Marion
Glades Day junior Anthony McPhee launches a 50-yard touchdown pass shortly before taking a hit from a First Baptist Academy linebacker. McPhee took multiple hits all night but still kept making plays in what his coach Eric Pitts called a “Favre-like” performance.

McPhee had plenty of help from his wide receivers in the game. Sophomore Jacob Camacho, senior Stefano Napolitano and junior Lane Collins showed great concentration on their catches, many of which were contested by a Lions defender. And the Glades Day offensive line did an admirable job in opening up running lanes for McPhee after starting running back junior Lorenzo Powe went down with an ankle injury in the first half.

Glades Day head coach Eric Pitts was proud of the way his team overcame the early mistakes to pull out the victory.

“We knew this game was going to be a war,” said Pitts. “Our kids came out and made a few mistakes but they kept fighting and never gave up. When Powe went down, Rett Lohmann stepped up and ran the ball all night while playing linebacker on defense. Kicking and special teams were good, and Anthony McPhee took over the game at quarterback.”

Lake Okeechobee News/Richard Marion
The Glades Day Gatorettes kept the big home crowd in Belle Glade entertained during halftime of the Gators’ playoff game against First Baptist Academy on Nov. 9.

The victory means Glades Day will move on to regional semifinals, where they’ll face the 9-1 St. John Neumann Celtics. Neumann has dominated most of their opponents this year, winning by 40-plus points in multiple games. But they barely scraped by against Moore Haven, 21-20, winning on a missed extra-point kick by the Terriers. And the Gators-Terriers game this year was neck and neck until the final whistle, when Moore Haven pulled off the 22-21 win. So the game between the two teams should make for a competitive match-up.

Glades Day travels to Naples to take on St. John Neumann Catholic High School at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 16.

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