Playoffs

American Heritage squeaks by Ponte Vedra to claim Class 5A State Championship

American Heritage players celebrate after a touchdown in the Class 5A State Championship Game. (Jason Beede/FHSF)

STATE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME COVERAGE POWERED BY

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ORLANDO, Fla. — This time, Plantation American Heritage had to work for it.

The Patriots fell behind Ponte Vedra 13-0 less than three minutes into the 5A State Championship Game at Camping World Stadium in Orlando but rallied to win a 35-33 thriller to capture their third state title in four years.

American Heritage finished the season 14-0 but had to recover an onside kick with three minutes left to finally hold off the pesky Sharks, who were making their first state championship game appearance.

Ponte Vedra (13-1) struck two plays into the game as Marshall Few took a short, five-yard pass from Nick Tronti and outran the American Heritage defense 76 yards to the end zone.  The Sharks didn’t attempt the extra point due to a bobble on the hold but led 6-0 only 45 seconds into the game.

On the ensuing kickoff, Ponte Vedra tried a short kick and recovered at the American Heritage 45 yard line.  Four plays later, running back Hal Swan caught a 15 yard TD pass from Tronti down the left sideline to put the Sharks up 13-0 only 2 minutes and 37 seconds into the game.

American Heritage woke up, though and moved down the field 63 yards in only 2 minutes as Patriots quarterback Jason Brown finished off the drive with a 12 yard TD run.  The American Heritage defense then forced a Ponte Vedra punt again on the next drive, and Patrick Surtain returned the Tronti punt to the 17-yard line. Miles Jones finished off the short drive with a 3-yard run and American Heritage took their first lead at 14-13.

The Patriots added to the lead halfway through the second quarter on a 5 yard TD pass from Brown to Dontavius Butler and American Heritage led 21-13 with 6:26 left before halftime.

Ponte Vedra’s offense had cooled off after a hot start, but on the next drive, the Sharks got back on the board. On fourth-and-10 from their 45, Tronti, who also serves as the Ponte Vedra punter, completed an 18-yard pass to Few to keep the drive going.  Tronti finished off the drive with another TD pass to Few, this one from 15 yards, and Ponte Vedra only trailed 21-20 at the halftime break.

There was no scoring in the third quarter, but American Heritage got back on the scoreboard on the first play of the fourth quarter.  Brown finished off a 15 play, 80-yard drive with a 5-yard scoring run to once again extend the Patriots lead to 8 at 28-20.  Ponte Vedra once again answered, with Tronti scoring his first touchdown rushing from 5 yards out. The Sharks two-point pass was incomplete, but the lead was only 28-26 for American Heritage with 7:57 left.

The play of the game came on the ensuing kickoff for American Heritage as Anthony Schwartz returned the kick 59 yards to the Ponte Vedra 25.  4 plays later Brown ran in from 1 yard out for his third rushing touchdown of the game, and the Patriots lead extended to 35-26 with 5:39 left.

Ponte Vedra wouldn’t go away all night and put together another drive as Tronti scored on a 2 yard run to finish off a 9 play, 80-yard drive that took only 2 minutes and 33 seconds.  The Sharks tried an onside kick with 3:06 left but American Heritage recovered and ran out the clock to finish off another state title.

American Heritage outgained Ponte Vedra 359-325 and had the ball for 26:24 to the Sharks 21:36. Neither team had a turnover.

For American Heritage, Brown was 13-of-16 passing for 81 yards with one TD passing and ran for 72 yards on 11 carries and the three rushing scores.  Running back Jordan Johnson paced the Patriots on the ground with 21 carries for 132 yards.

Ponte Vedra receiver another huge performance from their senior quarterback Tronti.  The Charlotte commit was 16-of-21 passing for 265 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for another 23 yards with the two TD’s on the ground.  Few ended up with six receptions for 154 yards and two TD’s receiving, but Ponte Vedra was held to only 60 yards rushing.  Senior running back Hal Swan managed only 37 yards on 13 carries for the Sharks.

AMERICAN HERITAGE HEAD COACH PATRICK SURTAIN AFTER THE GAME

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