The St. Thomas Aquinas Raiders began their path toward a third straight FHSAA Class 7A state title with a 35-0 victory over the Palm Beach Lakes Rams in a regional quarterfinal at Brian Piccolo Stadium on Friday night. The Raiders will play at home next week against the Dwyer Panthers in a playoff rematch from last season.
St. Thomas Aquinas(8-2) blasted the Rams with 27 points in the first quarter to put the game out of reach. Palm Beach Lakes punted the ball as they went three-and-out on their first drive. STA scored on the second play of their first possession when running back Michael Epstein stepped to the right sideline and scored from 24 yards away at 9:51.
The Raiders scored on their next drive as quarterback Jake Allen threw a 10-yard pass to wide receiver Jonathan Moore in the middle of the end zone with 4:00 left to make it 13-0. The Rams later had a punt blocked and Grayson Crozier returned it 22 yards for a score at 2:10.
Things continued to go wrong for Palm Beach Lakes(8-3) on their first play of their next possession. They threw a lateral pass from the pocket to the left side and defensive back Trenell Troutman returned it 12 yards for a touchdown with 1:50 remaining in the first.
St. Thomas Aquinas waited until midway through the third quarter to get out to a 35-0 lead. Troutman intercepted a pass from Rams quarterback Armani Edden and returned it 41 yards for a score at 6:00. They picked up a two-point conversion on a pass by Allen to wide receiver Michael Harley. A running clock would be implemented for the remainder of the contest.