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Killian rebounds, beats Coral Gables, 21-7

Akilah Laster | 10/17/2013, 9 a.m.

The Killian Cougars bounced back after a three week slump with a 21-7 upset of the Coral Gables Cavaliers last Thursday at Southridge Field. The Region 8A battle ended Coral Gables’ undefeated season and its first 5-0 start since 2008 under then-Coach Joe Montoya.

The result, while futile as far as a playoff berth for either team is concerned, was a momentum building for Killian

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Northwestern senior Left back Mike Smith collected two sacks against Booker T. Washington.

who had its worst start (1-4) since 2010. The Cougars’ struggling passing game was more potent than its coveted Wing-T rushing offense on Thursday, with quarterback Joel Careaga connecting on 12 of 13 throws, including two touchdowns. He finished with 142 passing yards.

For Gables, the loss exposed a few weaknesses, particularly in the offensive line, that they need to fine tune before they return to district play next Friday against Miami High who beat them 13-10 last season. Cavaliers Quarterback Dijion Smith was sacked more than five times and finished with negative rushing yards.

Gables’ running game was also thwarted by the Cougars defense and only amassed 47 yards. Their go-to rusher Gregory Howell earned just 69 yards, significantly short of his 152.3 season average.

Cougar Head Coach Cory Johnson said they needed the game to boost team morale after digging themselves in a hole with a crucial loss to Coral Reef (5-2, 2-0) two weeks ago that potentially killed post season hopes.

“We proved to ourselves we can finish a game,” Johnson said. “It’s something positive we can build upon.”

While Johnson said he doesn’t want the team to put too much weight on the win, he says it was a step in the right direction.

“It’s time for us to grow up,” Johnson said. “We had a lot of time to reflect and soul search.”

Hopefully they have found themselves because the Cougars enter three consecutive weeks of district play, starting with Palmetto (2-4, 0-2) on Saturday at Tropical Park. But even if they win all three games, the Cougars are at the mercy of Coral Reef who is still undefeated in the district along with South Dade (7-0, 2-0).

Reef would have to lose their game Friday to Southridge (2-4, 0-1) for Killian to have a shot. That is unlikely. It is also unlikely for either Reef or Killian to beat South Dade who remain undefeated and have only allowed 21 points in the last four games.

If the Cougars want to force a district tie-breaker they need to win all three games or at least beat the Panthers and Spartans. Perhaps 10 straight weeks of wear and tear on the Cudas will give the Spartans an edge and a needed morale boost and the Cougars new hope.