Terriers conquer Glades Day in rematch

Glades County Democrat/Richard Marion
Moore Haven senior John Cox evades Glades Day defenders to score a game-tying touchdown in the Terriers’ playoff victory on Friday, Nov. 10.

The Moore Haven Terriers pulled off a thrilling 42-35 victory against the Glades Day Gators on Friday, Nov. 10, notching their first home playoff victory in school history and advancing them to the regional finals.
Moore Haven senior John Cox scored all six touchdowns in the game for the Terriers, and Moore Haven head coach Max Manin couldn’t be happier with Cox’s performance during the playoff match.

“John is unbelievable.” Manin explained, “He’s the greatest football player I’ve ever coached. I’ll coach the rest of my life and I’ll never coach anyone like John again.”

Fans, students, alumni, family and friends all gathered to watch the first Terrier playoff appearance since 2013. The stands were so packed that people lined the fence that runs along the outside of the field and sat on the hoods of their cars in the parking lot just to watch the game on the windy and cool Friday night in Moore Haven.

After a Terrier touchdown early in the first quarter by senior Cox, Glades Day went on to score 21 unanswered points in the first half as the Moore Haven offense struggled to get back on track.

Trailing 21-7 with a few minutes remaining in the first half, the Terriers needed a score desperately if they wanted to keep the game from becoming a blowout. Cox, like he has almost all season, came through in the clutch again and delivered a 40-yard touchdown run to bring the score to 21-14.

But in what seemed like the theme of the first half, Glades Day had all the answers, as they were able to respond with a 25-yard touchdown pass with only 20 seconds remaining.

Still, the Terriers threatened to score again before the half. Moore Haven marched down the field and had enough time on the clock to take a shot in the end zone. With 5 seconds left, Cox launched a pass down field, but a Glades Day defender appeared to run into a Terrier wide receiver in the end zone before the ball arrived. The home crowd erupted, expecting a pass interference call, but it never came and the first half ended with Moore Haven down 28-14.

In their first match-up on Sept. 29, the Gators were up on the Terriers 21-6 in the first half, but the second half saw Moore Haven come roaring back to win the game 42-21. And their playoff rematch seemed to follow the same script.

Moore Haven responded after halftime with a long touchdown drive, bringing the score to 28-21. Cox was crucial in keeping the drive alive, turning near sacks into Terrier first downs.

The Terrier defense stood firm and forced the Gators into a punt on their first possession of the second half. And when the ensuing snap sailed over the punter’s head, the Moore Haven offense took over on the Glades Day 30-yard line. A few plays later, the Terriers punched their way into the end zone and tied the game up at 28.

Glades Day was able to withstand Moore Haven’s blistering comeback and march down the field on their next drive, but once again Cox came through with a big play, this time on defense. On a third and 10 play, Glades day quarterback Alex Mineo scrambled out of the pocket looking to throw down field when Cox came sprinting around and sacked Mineo 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage.

The loss of yards proved to be pivotal, as the following field goal attempt by the Gators fell short.

The two teams traded touchdowns on their next two drives, evening up the score again at 35. The Glades Day defense looked as if it was starting to wear down in the face of Moore Haven’s offensive attack, which might be why the Gators elected to try an onside kick after their game-tying touchdown with five minutes left in the fourth quarter.

But Moore Haven recovered the kick, giving the Terriers great field position and a chance to score and put a dagger into Glades Day’s hopes of advancing further into the playoffs.

And that’s exactly what the Terriers did, going on a long, time-consuming drive that ended in a 10-yard Cox touchdown run with 59 seconds remaining in the game.

Glades Day attempted to put together a last-minute touchdown drive of their own, but the Hail Mary from Gator quarterback Mineo was batted down as time expired.
It was a jubilant post-game atmosphere in Moore Haven as fans stormed the field and celebrated with the team after their playoff victory.

Next, the Terriers will face the Champagnat Catholic Lions in the regional tournament final at Moore Haven High School at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 17. The Lions come into the game with a regular season record of 5-2. Champagnat is both fast and talented and should be the toughest opponent the Terriers have faced thus far in the season. Moore Haven will look to conquer the Lions and keep both their perfect season and their playoff run alive.

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