ORLANDO- The final tally on the Class 4A scoreboard read 23-15, but the storyline was all Booker T. Washington. The Tornadoes limited the Nease Panthers to 13 yards rushing, 3 of 12 on third down conversions, and sacked quarterback Ted Stachitas eight times. Offensively, Washington amassed 468 yards of total offense.
However, after jumping put to a 23-7 lead with 4:48 remaining in the second quarter, Washington continued to watch as the officials threw yellow flag after yellow flag and mark off yardage against them. The Tornadoes finished the game with 17 penalties for 146 yards.
They were just three away from tying the state finals record of 20 established by Madison County against Hollywood Chaminade in 2003.
As much as those penalties aided the Panthers cause, the speed of Team Washington was the difference in the outcome. And Washington had plenty of it.
It appeared that the Panthers caught a break when Washington quarterback Torrance Moise was forced out of the game with the Tornadoes in possession of the ball at their own seven yard line with 9:51 remaining. Brandon Harris took over and two plays later picked up a crucial first down running to the right side. Two plays later, Harris ran a quarterback draw which went for 26 yards juking and spinning his way through the Panthers defense.
The new set of downs gave the Washington defense additional time to rest. The Tornadoes offense stalled, forcing Franklin Brown to punt. His 25 yard punt was enough to tilt the field and force Nease start 73 yards from paydirt.
The speedy Tornadoes defense stepped up and once again though. Stachitas ran for eight yards on first down. However, he was sacked for a four yard loss when he was unable to find an open receiver on second down. His third down pass was completed for a five yard loss and the Panthers were forced to punt on fourth and 11.
The Tornadoes defense was awesome in the fourth quarter. Nease had only two possessions and were forced to three and out both times. Six plays for minus one yard of total offense.
Early on it was all Washington. Running back Eduardo Clements scored on a two yard run in the first quarter to give the Tornadoes a 7-0 lead.
On their following possession, the Tornadoes drove the ball 64 yards to the Nease eight yard line, but failed to convert a fourth and one. Two plays later, Stachitas was sacked in the endzone for a safety pushing Washington’s lead to 9-0.
Nease scored first in the second quarter. They used two big pass plays to get the ball into Washington territory. Stachitas then hit Andrew Barnes for a 21 yard touchdown.
Washington answered with a big play of their own. Moise found Thearon Collier for 69 yards before Mitch Swanson got the angle on Collier and forced him out at the two yard line. Clements scored two plays later from the one to give Washington a 16-7 lead.
Minutes later, Clements scored his third touchdown of the game after catching a pass from Moise and racing 13 yards to the endzone. The Tornadoes led 23-7 at the half.
The only scoring in the second half was by Panthers running back Patrick Barker, who took the ball seven yards for a score. Nease nailed to two-point conversion when Stachitas hit Barker for in the endzone to close the gap to 23-15.
Nease kicker Andre Barker missed a 34 yard field goal in the third quarter that would have cut the Tornadoes lead to 23-18.
Clements finished with 100 yards on 20 carries. Brandon Harris led the Tornadoes in receiving with six receptions for 57 yards. He also had six carries for 35 yards.
Notes: Former Florida linebacker Ben Hanks is an assistant coach at Washington. He coaches the defensive line. Booker T. Washington sophomore running back Eduardo Clements is a definite Division I prospect…Brandon Harris is the son of Washington head coach Tim Harris. He is considering Florida, Miami, LSU, and OSU. ..Harris had 92 all-purpose yards, 57 through the air and 35 on the ground…University of Miami commit Davon Johnson finished with four receptions for 98 yards… Johnson had 117 all-purpose yards…Fellow Miami commit Thearon Collier had three catches for 83 yards.