Miami Central bounces Naples from 6A playoffs
The Rockets ended the Eagles' perfect season ...
2012 PREPZONE FOOTBALL: WEEK 15
- Video: Highlights from Naples-Miami Central game
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- Prep football: Immokalee holds off Miami-Jackson, heads to 5A state title game
- Prep football: Miami Central rallies in second half to beat Naples in 6A semifinal
- Prep football: Edgerrin James reacts to Immokalee's state semifinal victory
- Prep football: Central's Cook gets untracked, Naples' Morgan slowed down
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All season Naples High described itself not as a football team, but as a family.
For 12 games that camaraderie and brotherhood carried the Golden Eagles to victory, at times against opponents with bigger, stronger, faster players. In the Class 6A semifinals on Friday, Naples met a team with too much talent for the Eagles' bond to overcome.
Naples lost its bid to return to the state championship game for the first time since 2007, falling 48-33 at home to Miami Central. The Golden Eagles' fellowship made it a stronger team, but it also made season's end much tougher to take.
"This team is just such a family," said Naples quarterback Kilton Anderson as he fought back tears. "We all loved each other more than anything, and we played our hearts out together. When you do that 13 games in a row, it becomes more than a family."
Central's tandem of Division I running backs exploded in the second half as the Rockets scored 20 points in the final eight minutes to come from behind. Clemson recruit Dalvin Cook and Joseph Yearby accounted for 239 yards and five touchdowns in the second half, including three straight scores after Naples took the lead with 10 minutes to play.
The Rockets move on to the 6A championship game for the third straight year. Miami Central, state champ in 2010 and runner-up last year before vacating its playoff run, plays Gainesville, which beat Navarre 62-26, on Dec. 15 at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando for the state title.
Naples held Central to minus-6 rushing yards in the first half thanks to a pair of long sacks. In the second half, the Rockets broke out in a hurry, then wore down the smaller Eagles.
Cook's first three carries of the third quarter went for 134 yards, including touchdown runs of 48 and 80 yards. The big runs gave Central its first lead at 28-27 with 4:43 left in the third quarter.
"(The Rockets) are a lot bigger and faster than us at a lot of positions," Eagles coach Bill Kramer said. "That takes a toll after a while."
With Central focused on stopping 2,000-yard rusher Manny Morgan, Anderson staked Naples to a big lead in the first half. Behind his three rushing touchdowns in the first quarter, Naples led 24-7 with six minutes to go in the first half.
Anderson, a junior, finished with 191 yards and four touchdowns rushing. His 1-yard dive with 10:24 left to play gave Naples a 33-28 lead.
On its next drive, Central converted a third down and 33 with a 44-yard pass from Keith Reed to Tavius Brown Jr. Yearby later scored on a 2-yard run to give the Rockets the lead for good.
"We just tried to stay in our game plan," Central coach Telly Lockette said. "We play better in the second half. We came out and did some good things."
Naples went three-and-out after falling behind in the fourth quarter, and Central scored two plays later on Cook's 15-yard run with 6:16 left. On its next possession, Naples couldn't convert a fourth down from its own 19, and Yearby scored on the next play.
Central finished with 498 yards of offense, 326 in the second half. Naples finished with 377 yards, 139 of them after halftime.
The Golden Eagles were emotional after the loss. Naples coaches and players took a moment to collect themselves in the locker room before addressing the media.
"We expect to win because we do the work," Kramer said. "This group expected to win tonight. We expected to win every week. It's a tough pill to swallow."
MIAMI CENTRAL 48, NAPLES 33
MC 7 7 14 20 — 48
N 21 3 3 6 — 33
N — Anderson 32 run (Nunez kick), 9:25
N — Anderson 5 run (Nunez kick), 7:48
MC — Cook 78 pass from Reed (Nadelman kick), 6:58
N — Anderson 4 run (Nunez kick), 0:09
N — Nunez 24 FG, 6:05
MC — Phillips 53 pass from Reed (Nadelman kick), 4:00
MC — Cook 48 run (Nadelman kick), 9:46
N — Nunez 28 FG, 4:58
MC — Cook 80 run (Nadelman kick), 4:43
N — Anderson 1 run (run failed), 10:24
MC — Yearby 2 run (pass failed), 7:54
MC — Cook 15 run (Nadelman kick), 6:16
MC — Yearby 19 run (Nadelman kick), 4:53