ORLANDO – If you find beauty in precision, then Saturday night’s Class 2A state championship football game between Jacksonville Bolles and Miami Gulliver Prep was a supermodel, especially if you are a fan of Bolles.
Known for its wing-T offense which is run like a machine, Bolles encountered some trouble with its offense after jumping out to a quick 14-0 lead in the first quarter. With his ground game stalled, Bulldogs coach Corky Rogers decided to open up the playbook and used a pair of second-quarter touchdown passes from junior Chandler Carr to Jay Herndon to lead Bolles to a 49-20 victory over the Raiders at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando.
The victory provided legendary Hall of Fame coach Corky Rogers with his eighth state title at Bolles in 20 seasons. It was the school’s ninth state title overall. Rogers is now 232-29 at Bolles.
Stephen Barnett was a difference-maker for the Bulldogs (14-0) as he rushed for 133 yards and two touchdowns on just 17 carries. While the Raiders (11-2) struggled trying to defend the wing-T, they did give the Bolles offense fits at times in the first quarter with their team speed on defense.
When that happened, Bolles simply went to the air, inserting Carr in the second quarter. The move paid off. Carr would only complete 3 of 6 passes all night, but the three completions totaling 94 yards all went for touchdowns by Herndon.
The lone bad play Carr made in the game would be an errant throw in the second quarter to Artice Kellam, who made a great read on the play and returned it 37 yards for a touchdown. It was one of three turnovers the Raiders’ defense would cause, but the Bulldogs’ defense got three turnovers back.
Kellam was one of the lone bright spots for the Raiders. In addition to his interception return for a touchdown, Kellam also had 12 tackles, one of them a quarterback sack, and forced a fumble. Frank Telfort also added 8 tackles for the Raiders in a losing cause.
For the Bulldogs’ defense, Aaron Riley led the effort up front with his tenacious pass rushing. He would finish the night with 5 tackles, three for minus yardage including two sacks as he harassed Gulliver Prep QB Michael Strauss (17-of-30, 169 yards, 2 interceptions) all night long. Strauss had almost no time to set his feet and throw. Taylor Betros, the younger brother of Wake Forest freshman linebacker Scott Betros, had six tackles, including two for minus yardage, and Josh Hood also added six tackles, one behind the line of scrimmage.
Following Kellam’s interception, Carr took Bolles right back to score, hitting Herndon for a 38-yard touchdown to put the Bulldogs up 28-7. Herndon would finish his extremely productive night with four receptions for 103 yards and three touchdowns. Davis Skinner hit on all five of his passes for 55 yards in an extremely efficient outing while splitting time with Carr behind center.
While the Raiders were unable to put many points on the board, it wasn’t for a lack of offensive movement. Gulliver moved the ball near midfield on the game’s opening drive, but Strauss would be sacked for a loss of 13 yards on third-and-10, forcing a punt. Darian Mallory often looked to be just a broken tackle away from breaking the big one, which finally happened when he went down the left side for a 71-yard run late in the third quarter.