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MIAMI – After the final play of the third quarter in the Class 6A semifinal on Friday, the energetic and entertaining announcer at Traz Powell Stadium in Miami could control his enthusiasm no longer.

“The Bulls are state bound,” the announcer boomed. “It’s a party!”

It didn’t matter that 12 minutes remained in the high school football playoff game. Miami-Northwestern had scored its fifth straight touchdown on Naples High School, and the Bulls carried a four-score lead into the final quarter.

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Naples’ Wooby Theork talks about the different experiences he had with the Naples team that lost in the state semifinals this year, and in 2015. Miguel Rodriguez/Naples Daily news

It was that kind of night for the Golden Eagles. After landing a blow against its nationally-ranked opponent early, Naples had few other highlights in a 42-7 loss to Northwestern.

The Bulls (11-2) move on to the Class 6A state championship game Friday in Orlando, where they will face Seffner-Armwood. Naples, which won its third regional championship in six years this season, finished the year at 10-2.

“That’s a really good Northwestern team,” Naples coach Bill Kramer said. “I’ve been doing this a long time. I was in Dade County a long time. That’s as good a team as I’ve seen.”

It was the largest playoff loss in school history for the Golden Eagles. It also tied the biggest loss ever in 20 seasons under Kramer, who coached for 10 seasons in the Miami area before coming to Naples in 1998. Estero beat the Golden Eagles 35-0 that year.

Northwestern, ranked No. 13 in the nation by MaxPreps, gashed the Naples defense for 373 yards, averaging 10.9 yards per carry.

The Golden Eagles had given up just one touchdown to an opposing offense in three playoff games this season. The Bulls scored three in the first half Friday and three more in the second half.

“(The Bulls) are a very good team, but a couple of their big plays came after missed assignments,” Eagles junior defensive lineman Loobert Denelus said. “We could have done a better job coming out with more energy.”

The 500 or so Naples fans who made the two-hour drive across Alligator Alley had plenty of energy early, and for good cause.

The Eagles defense forced a three-and-out on Northwestern’s first possession. Then on Naples’ third offensive play, junior running back Chez Mellusi found a seam inside and broke free for a 74-yard touchdown run.

Naples led 7-0 four minutes into the game.

The Bulls then came to life. Northwestern scored touchdowns on its next three possessions. By halftime Northwestern had 259 rushing yards and a 21-7 lead. The Bulls didn't miss quarterback Chartarius Atwell, a Louisville commit who exited late in the first half with an ankle injury. Backup Justin Hill ran for a touchdown and threw for two others.

“We started off strong,” Mellusi said. “Then there were a lot of mental mistakes. For the most part we played our game, but we didn’t play it to the best of our ability.”

Thanks to his big first-quarter run, Mellusi finished with 131 yards on 20 carries. He went over 1,500 yards for the year, including 10 100-yard performances in Naples’ 12 games (and he only played four plays in one game).

Naples’ offense was shut down by a Bulls defense littered with future college players. Northwestern has six seniors committed to Division I colleges on defense, including four committed to Power 5 programs.

The Golden Eagles finished with 156 total yards, 155 of them on the ground. Naples had three first downs in the second half, one by penalty and one on its final drive after the running clock had been instituted.

The Eagles were in Northwestern territory just twice -- one time when they recovered a fumble at the Bulls’ 41-yard line but then went backward across the 50 thanks to penalties and sacks. The second time came on Naples’ final drive in the fourth quarter.

“We had about eight penalties on our first four drives,” Kramer said. “That is not championship football. You just can’t do it and we did that. You can’t jump offside against Miami-Northwestern. Hopefully we learn from that.”

Despite the historic loss, Naples finished with one of the program’s best seasons. The Eagles won their eighth regional championship overall and the seventh since 2001. They also finished with double-digit victories for the 12th time in Kramer’s 20 seasons.

“There’s no shame in being in the state semifinals, no shame in being regional champions,” the FHSAA Hall of Fame coach said. “I’m just really, really proud of our guys.”

MIAMI-NORTHWESTERN 42, NAPLES 7

N      7          0          0          0          –          7

NW      14        7          14        7          –          42

SCORING

First quarter

N – Chez Mellusi 74 run (Hugh Wilkinson kick), 7:45

NW – Davonne Bo Kendrick (Kendry Rosales kick), 6:42

NW – Chatarius Atwell 1 run (Rosales kick), 2:18

Second quarter

NW – Jacquez Stuart 45 run (Rosales kick), 11:27

Third quarter

NW – Justin Hill 3 run (Rosales kick), 5:47

NW – Quavon Beckford 17 pass from Hill (Rosales kick), 0:00

Fourth quarter

NW – Derrick Davis 14 pass from Hill (Rosales kick), 6:29

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

Rushing – N, Chez Mellusi 20-131, Elan Sommala 7-25, Jordan Persad-Tirone 9-(minus 1); NW, Corey Hammett 8-99, Davonne Bo Kendrick 11-89, Kiaryn Davis 5-55, Chatarius Atwell 6-45, Jacquez Stuart 1-45, Justin Hill 3-40.

Passing – N,  Persad-Tirone 1-6-0-1; NW, Atwell 4-6-0-52, Hill 3-3-0-43.

Receiving – N, Mellusi 1-1; NW, Quavon Beckford 4-56, Derrick Davis 1-14, Hill 1-13, Hammett 1-12.

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