Venice holds up the 2021 FHSAA Class 8A State Championship on Sat., Dec. 18, 2021 at DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The 35-7 win over Apopka mark the Indians' first state championship victory since 2017. [Joshua Wilson/FloridaHSFootball.com]

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – In the state’s largest classification, everything came down to Apopka and Venice for the 2021 FHSAA Class 8A State Championship to cap off the season.

And in the end, the preseason consensus No. 1 team in the state, the Venice Indians (14-1) crushed Apopka (12-3), 35-7 to win the team’s third overall state championship in school history and their first state championship since 2017.

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Here are four takeaways from the game

TRIFECTA PERFECTION OR WAS IT REALLY THAT?

What might have been the defining moment came with just over two minutes left in the first half when Damon Wilson for Venice deflected Andrew McClain’s pass for Apopka, then intercepting and scoring all within a matter of a couple of seconds.

However, the play became a source of controversy not just with Apopka fans, but with fans around the state who believed the call was wrong as it was seen that Wilson might not have had full possession of the interception in the end zone.

In the video of what we captured from that play, there appear to be two different signals coming from the officials with the head official declaring the touchdown as official which has only stirred up more controversy.

OFFENSIVE SUCCESS FOR THE INDIANS

The Indians found huge offense success against the Blue Darters with 414 total yards offense.

The first part of that success came through the air with Ryan Browne who had a near-perfect game going 18-of-21 passing for 250 yards and four touchdowns with just one interception.

Browne had several favorite targets in the game in Jayshon Platt, Keyone Sears, Omari Hayes.

Fort Platt, finished with seven receptions for 108 yards and a touchdown while Hayes had eight receptions for 78 yards and touchdown.

Sears did the most damage with the fewest yards and receptions with two receptions both taken in the end zone for touchdowns.

The second part of the success for Venice came on the ground game with 164 total yards on the ground with Damarion Escort getting 109 yards on the ground on 20 carries. Now while no points were scored on the ground by the Indians, the effort for Venice made a huge difference for the state championship win.

VENICE DEFENSE BURNS APOPKA’S OFFENSE

If there was another part of Venice’s success for the 2021 season, it came on the defensive side of the ball for the Indians.

Damon Wilson, lead the way for the team overall with eight tackles, half a sack, two tackles for loss, one interception, one pass breakup, and one quarterback hurry.

Overall, the Indians finished the game with 58 total tackles, two sacks, seven tackles for loss, two interceptions, three pass breakups, and three quarterback hurries overall.

In all the Venice defense held Apopka to 115 total offensive yards and a negative four yards passing.

APOPKA FINDS LIMITED SUCCESS

In speaking of Apopka, the Blue Darters had limited success overall in the game with only one touchdown coming with 6:13 left in the game on a No. 29 Zeldrick Roberts two-yard rush to make the score 7-7.

Kayondray Jones lead the Blue Darters with 67 yards rushing on 14 carries.

Andrew McClain finished 1-of-8 passing with two interceptions, completing more passes to the Venice defense than the Blue Darters defense.

COACH’S WORD – JOHN PEACOCK