St. Thomas Aquinas celebrates winning their third straight Class 7A State Championship and the schools 13th overall on Fri. Dec. 17, 2021 at DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. [Joshua Wilson/FloridaHSFootball.com]

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – While it was the first-ever appearance for the Tampa Bay Tech Titans in a state championship game, the hometown St. Thomas Aquinas Raiders showed the Titans what experience in these games are like on Friday night at DRV PNK Stadium for the Class 7A State Championship.

At the end of the night, St. Thomas Aquinas (14-1) walked away with a big 42-14 running clock victory over Tampa Bay Tech (14-1) to claim their third straight Class 7A State Championship.

Here are four takeaways from the game:

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HANKERSON SHOWS WHY HE IS ONE OF THE TOP BACKS IN THE STATE

Anthony Hankerson, a three-star running back, according to 247Sports, showed why he is once again one of the top running backs in Florida with his performance tonight in front of a lot of hometown fans.

Hankerson, who came into the night with 931 yards rushing and 19 touchdowns through the state semifinals added to those numbers with 117 yards rushing on 11 carries and scored three touchdowns along the way.

Hankerson’s first two touchdowns of the night came on the Raiders’ first two drives of the game to quickly build up a 14-0 lead.

The first touchdown for Hankerson came with 8:05 left in the first quarter on a 30-yard carry that put the Raiders up 6-0 after the extra point hit the left upright and was ruled no good.

The second touchdown for Hankerson came on a four-yard carry that was set up by a bad snap on a punt for Tampa Bay Tech that landed at the 14-yard line. The touchdown capped off a five-play drive with 3:42 left in the first quarter to put the Raiders up 14-0 after a two-point conversion was successful.

Hankerson’s third and final touchdown of the night would come in the third quarter on a three-play 56-yard drive, carrying it into the end zone from 16 yards out that put the score up 42-7 with 2:23 left in the quarter which would start the running clock for the rest of the game.

ZION TURNER FLEXES HIS ARMS & LEGS

Turner became the first quarterback in St. Thomas Aquinas history to win three-straight state championships as the starting quarterback.

And his stat line for the night showed for it as well.

Turner went 10-of-13 passing for 102 yards and two touchdowns and also added 65 yards on the ground, 46 of that coming on a first down run that would set up his 21-yard touchdown pass to Isaiah Hardge to put the Raiders up 35-7 with 5:50 left in the third quarter.

AQUINAS DEFENSE STOUT

The Raiders defense showed out tonight and despite giving up one touchdown in the first half to the Titans, the Raiders were able to shut the door on a potential second scoring touchdown drive near the end of the first half as the Raiders knocked down several for sure touchdown passes by Tampa Tech. That would allow St. Thomas Aquinas to take a 28-7 lead into the half.

The final defensive stat line for the Raiders was 66 total tackles with four sacks, seven tackles for loss, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, one interception, seven pass breakups, and four quarterback hurries.

Derrieon Craig finished the night with eight tackles, one tackle for loss while Justin Fevier collected seven tackles, one sack, and one-and-half tackles for loss.

RAIDERS EXTEND DYNASTY

For Roger Harriott, this is his sixth overall state championship as a head coach and fifth as the head coach at St. Thomas Aquinas.

And for the Raiders, the win over Tampa Bay Tech extended their FHSAA state championship record to 13 state championships won overall.

And now the Raiders have the opportunity next season to win four straight state championships in a row, something that the Raiders have never been able to accomplish.

However, in the end, St. Thomas Aquinas adds to the record book having won three straight state championships two times in school history with winning three straight championships from 2014-2016, all in Class 7A.

COACH’S WORD – ROGER HARRIOT