MADISON — The Pahokee Blue Devils fell just short of the Madison County Cowboys in the state semifinal on Nov. 29, losing 37-36.
Pahokee senior Corey Polk had four rushing touchdowns against the Cowboys, including what appeared to be the go-ahead touchdown to put the Blue Devils up 34-30 with a little over a minute left in the game. Following the touchdown, Pahokee went for two and converted to make the score 36-30 thanks to some shifty moves in the pocket from senior Jermaine Roberson.
The Cowboy pass rush was relentless all throughout the second half. Still, Roberson more often than not bought enough time when he needed to make a play and find a receiver down field.
Madison County got the ball back with a minute remaining and needed a touchdown to win it all. But when Pahokee senior defensive end Frankie Burgess burst through the Cowboys’ offensive line to get a huge tackle for loss, it looked like the Blue Devils were of the verge of pulling off the upset.
Needing a big play, the Cowboys turned to one of their best players, senior Derrion Staten. Madison County quarterback Vinsonta Allen threw a quick wide receiver screen to Staten on second and 12, which Derrion took nearly 80 yards to the house.
Staten bounced and rolled off Blue Devils defenders and bulled his way into the end zone to put Madison County up 37-36 with less than a minute remaining.
Pahokee got the ball back with some time still on the clock, but that ferocious Cowboy pass rush began to get home, and the Madison County defense shut down any hopes of a Blue Devil comeback.
The win by the Cowboys sends them to their third state championship game in three years and ended Pahokee’s season.
Coming into the season, the Blue Devils knew they had one of the toughest schedules in the state, but they rose to the challenge and went on a remarkable run late in the year.
First-year head coach D.J. Boldin addressed both his team and the Blue Devil faithful on his personal Twitter account a day after the state semifinal.
“To my 2019 Blue Devils football team, thank you,” read Boldin’s post. “You guys fought for me, fought for each other and gave me everything you had. You made this rookie head coach feel like he won the lottery. I know you guys look at me and say that you have learned a lot from me, but I would argue in this moment that I learned more from you all. I am a better father, mentor, teacher and coach because of you.
“To my future Blue Devils,” Boldin continued, “remember this moment, remember this feeling and remember the example your brothers have set before you. Use all of it to help push our football program back to prominence. Be proud but never settle for anything less than greatness.”