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Blanche Ely Stuns Dillard 19-14 in Class 3M Regional Semifinal
Blanche Ely senior quarterback Nahcoy Daniels (No. 9, second from left) threw three touchdown passes to lead the Tigers past Dillard 19-14.
By Dave Brousseau
FORT LAUDERDALE – It’s likely no one saw this coming.
But for the those who believe the transformation of the Blanche Ely football team is for real, Saturday’s 19-14 victory over rival Dillard in a Region 3-3M semifinal is proof.
The win was the first over the Panthers since a 13-7 overtime decision in 2016. Blanche Ely also improved to 10-0, marking the first time in school history to remain undefeated heading into a regional final.
That’s impressive considering the Tigers finished 1-9 last season.
“This is by far the biggest coaching win of my career,” said Blanche Ely coach Michael Bailey. “It’s hard to find the words.
This is bigger than me. It’s for the community, the kids, the parents and everything we did was historic.”
The Tigers face a near impossible task at victory on Friday when they play at three-time defending state champion St. Thomas Aquinas. The Raiders enter the game riding a 24-game winning streak and haven’t played Ely since a 58-0 win in 2018.
Three plays defined the Tigers’ comeback victory after being down 14-12 as the third quarter was about to expire.
Following a Dillard punt and the ball 51 yards from paydirt, the Tigers needed only two pass completions to retake the lead.
The eventual game winning touchdown came with 49 seconds remaining in the third quarter on Nahcoy Daniels third scoring pass of the game, this time 36-yards to a wide open junior wide receiver Marcel Williams.
The Tigers defense made a pair of defensive stops that helped secure the victory.
Dillard (7-4) had advanced to the Ely 18 before sophomore Cameron Davis made a diving interception with 9:18 left in the fourth quarter.
But it was the clutch pick by four-star defensive back Harlem Howard with 32 seconds left in regulation at the Ely four that sealed the victory.
“That was my biggest interception of my career,” said Howard. “I saw their number three receiver in my zone and I ran to make the play. We believed we could win, and Ely is back.”
“Harlem Howard is the best all-around defensive player in the state,” said Bailey. “He is the top five player at his position in the country.”
Dillard was fighting an uphill battle most of the game after falling behind 6-0 on a Daniels 52-yard touchdown pass to Cedric Ward with 8-52 left in the first quarter. The touchdown was set up following a Jordan Saintilus interception.
The Panthers answered quickly on a 30-yard run by Christopher Johnson. The PAT was good, and Dillard led 7-6.
Daniels threw is second scoring pass of the game, 23-yards to Marcus Williams with 3:49 left in the opening quarter for a 12-7 lead.
Dillard, however, would take a 14-12 lead into the half following a 26-yard touchdown pass from Jorge Tabora to Tastean Reddicks.
“We had too many penalties,” said Dillard coach Tyler Tate. “It was tough but in rivalry games it can go either way.”