Home Sports Unbeaten Miami Central makes case for national title: ‘We’re No. 1 everywhere’

Unbeaten Miami Central makes case for national title: ‘We’re No. 1 everywhere’

Unbeaten Miami Central makes case for national title: ‘We’re No. 1 everywhere’

Miami Central coach Jube Joseph lifts the Class 2M state championship after the Rockets 38-31 win against American Heritage on Friday at DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale.

FORT LAUDERDALE — Miami Central wasn’t just playing for the Class 2M state championship and a share of FHSAA history on Friday, it had its sights set on a loftier goal.

A national title.

The Rockets took care of two of those things Friday, holding off Plantation-American Heritage 38-31 at DRV PNK Stadium. Central (14-0) got four total touchdowns from senior quarterback Keyone Jenkins and Miami commit Rueben Bain recovered a fumble with 1:17 remaining to seal the win.

“We’re No. 1. Everywhere,” Central coach Jube Joseph said. “We heard the doubters. We knew the doubters were real. It’s Central vs. Everybody and that’s fine.

“At the end of the day, when you’re coaching young Black kings, you have to teach them about adverse situations, to stand up tall in it and fight through adverse situations and just dominate. They didn’t make any excuses never, they just stood tall and did what they had to do. I’m so proud of these kids.”

Since the start of the season when the Rockets stunned IMG 20-14 in Bradenton, Central’s players have talked about wanting to finally claim a national title. Joseph has fueled that conversation and wasn’t about to shy away from it after matching a school and state record with a fourth consecutive championship.

“We’re going for different goals,” he said. “They (American Heritage) were going for a state championship, we were playing for a national championship. We’ve been saying that since Day One. We knew it.”

Miami Central came into the game ranked No. 2 nationally on the High School Football America 100 rankings and No. 3 by MaxPreps.

“We know we’re national champs,” Jenkins said. “I don’t care what MaxPreps say.”

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Central came out clicking early and jumped out to a 17-3 lead in the first quarter behind Jenkins touchdown passes to Anjuan Coleman and Cataurus Hicks. Mark Fletcher’s touchdown run in the second quarter cut the lead to seven, but Jenkins quickly responded with a 37-yard pass to Corey Washington and then added an 8-yard keeper of his own to extend the lead to 31-10.

Heritage tacked on a field goal in the final minute of the half but the first two quarters were about the Rockets flexing their muscle.

“We really wanted to come in attack the slots and really run the ball,” Jenkins said. “We knew we could come in and run everything. They gave us a 40 front and a 50 front, so that’s pretty easy for us. I made my checks and I made my reads. I missed a couple throws here and there, that’s unlike me. But I can live with it.”

Heritage (13-2) made a strong comeback in the second half. They opened with a long drive that ended with a fourth down fumble inside the Central 10-yard line, but capitalized soon after when the Patriots recovered a bad punt snap at the Rockets 7 and Byron Louis punched it in from a yard out.

Central scored its final score on the next drive — a 73-yard run by Jonathan Harris — to extend the lead to 38-21. Harris finished with nine carries for a game-high 141 yards. As a team, Central rushed for 343 yards and two scores.

It was all Heritage after that.

Brandon Inniss, an Ohio State commit, caught a 6-yard pass from Blake Murphy with 10:54 remaining in the game and Wylie Shaw kicked his third field goal, a 25-yarder, to cut the lead to seven.

“They kept battling,” Patriots coach Mike Smith said. “That’s it. They kept battling. That’s exactly it. We couldn’t stop them in the first half and we came out in the second half and the defense did a hell of a job getting stops when we needed to get stops. We just came up short.”

Heritage forced a punt and was driving into Central territory late in the final quarter but fumbled and Bain recovered it at the Rockets 24-yard line. He laid on the ground with the ball for several seconds, knowing he just secured the win.

“Just saying, ‘The game’s over,'” said Bain, who had five tackles, two tackles for loss a sack and three quarterback hurries. “I knew the game was sealed at that moment.

“Everything was for both (the state and national title). It’s an equal amount. It’s the first undefeated season we had. This is routine. Every year we expect the state title.”


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