The Pahokee Blue Devils defeated the Baker Gators 34-21 for the FHSAA Class 1A state championship on Thursday at Camping World Stadium in Orlando. The Blue Devils captured their first state title since 2008.
It was the seventh overall state championship for Pahokee. They won two straight titles in 2003 and 2004 then captured three consecutive championships from 2006 until 2008. The Blue Devils did reach the state title game in 2005. They dropped in classification from 3A to 1A in 2015.
Pahokee(14-0) scored on their second possession when running back Rodney McKay ran the ball in from six yards away at 2:38 of the first quarter. McKay added another touchdown on their next drive as he rambled in from 10 yards out with 8:55 to go in the second quarter.
In the second half, Baker(13-1) closed the deficit on an unusual play. Quarterback Kalee Ciurleo fumbled the ball, offensive lineman Gabe Vicari recovered it and scored a three-yard touchdown at 6:10 of the third quarter.
The Blue Devils responded on their next possession and increased their margin to 21-7 with 3:20 left in the third. Quarterback Tyrone Smith threw a 49-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Tyron Arnett.
The final quarter was a scoring fest as both schools combined for 27 points. The Gators got a one-yard touchdown run by Ciurleo at 10:30 of the fourth quarter. The Blue Devils answered back as running back Jim-travis Gray busted in on a one-yard score with 7:13 left. They missed on the two-point conversion and had a 27-14 lead.
Baker was unable to keep up with the pace when Pahokee linebacker Roy Walker intercepted a Ciurleo pass and returned it 53 yards for a touchdown with 4:27 remaining.