Atlantic beat Blanche Ely for the same time this season as Montahj Joseph ran for 154 yards and two touchdowns
DELRAY BEACH — When Atlantic played host to Pompano Beach-Blanche Ely two weeks ago for the Class 7A-District 13 title, junior tailback Montahj Joseph was out with an ankle injury, and the Eagles needed a surge in the second half to win.
On Friday, a fully healthy Joseph carried 18 times for 154 yards and two touchdowns, and helped Atlantic dominate Ely 47-12 in a Class 7A-Region 4 quarterfinal. Junior starting quarterback Guenson Alexis passed for two touchdowns and ran for two more.
Next Friday, third-seeded Atlantic (7-3) will visit second-seeded Hollywood-McArthur (8-2), which defeated Fort Lauderdale 25-10.
As Atlantic turned the game into a rout in the second half, Ely players began getting frustrated. Eagles coach T.J. Jackson said some Tigers were punching his players in the stomach, and that nearly caused a fight late in the third quarter.
“I just told them to keep their composure, let me talk to the officials and just try to see if the officials can get it under control,” Jackson said. “Just keep your composure and don’t retaliate, because at the end of the day, you guys don’t want to get kicked out for next week.”
No Atlantic players were ejected. In order to avoid further incidents, the officials cancelled the traditional postgame handshake between the teams, and Ely immediately left the field after the clock hit zero.
Atlantic punted on its first two possessions, then scored touchdowns on their final seven. The Eagles rushed for 293 yards, outgained the Tigers 350-238, and forced two turnovers.
Joseph had 46 yards on his first five carries, but Atlantic’s first two drives stalled.
In the final minute of the first quarter, a recurring Ely weakness helped Atlantic open the scoring. In the first Ely-Atlantic game, a snap that went over the punter’s head late in the first quarter helped the Eagles break open a close game. Last week in the Broward Soul Bowl, a bad snap on a punt led to a touchdown for Fort Lauderdale-Dillard.
On Friday, the Tigers punter could not handle a snap that bounced in front of him, and Atlantic wound up with the ball on the Ely 15-yard line. Joseph ran for 11 yards, then Guenson Alexis faked a handoff to him and darted untouched into the end zone as time expired. Ashlee Ritter’s extra point gave the Eagles a 7-0 lead.
After forcing a three-and-out and a short punt, Atlantic got the ball back on the Ely 35. On fourth-and-12, Alexis scrambled for 27 yards. Two plays later, Joseph scored from the 2 to double the lead to 14-0 with 7:53 until halftime.
On the ensuing possession, Ely’s Tomorius Grant had a 50-yard catch-and-run, which set up Danard Little’s 4-yard touchdown run, and Atlantic’s lead was down to 14-6 with 3:08 left in the half.
Atlantic got the ball back on its 40, and four consecutive Joseph runs for a combined 30 yards helped get the Eagles to the Tigers 20. With 10 seconds left, the Eagles went for it on fourth-and-goal from the 7. An Ely encroachment penalty moved the ball to the 3, then Alexis connected with Javone Jackson in the end zone with 4 seconds remaining and a 20-6 halftime lead.
Atlantic began the second half with the ball on the Ely 5 after a Tiger muffed the bouncing kickoff. Two plays later, Joseph ran for his second touchdown, and the Eagles led 27-6.
On the Eagles’ next drive, Joseph ran three more times for 40 yards, then called it a night. The nine-play, 70-yard march ended on Alexis’ 1-yard sneak, which pushed the lead to 33-6 midway through the third quarter.
Alexis’ 9-yard touchdown pass to a sliding Rashawn Faustine early in the fourth quarter made it 40-6. Corey Wyatt, who took over the ball-carrying duties from Joseph and wound up with 97 yards on 11 carries, scored from 4 yards out in the final minute. Ashlee Ritter’s fifth extra point of the night prompted the running clock, and there were no more snaps.
Although Alexis completed only 6-of-17 passes for 57 yards, Jackson praised him for getting the offensive players lined up right and managing the game well. He played the entire game because Atlantic’s other quarterback, Jacoby Dorch, was injured. Running back Bry’yon Jones, who starred in the first victory against Ely, missed the game with a sprained ankle. Dorch’s and Jones’ status for next week is uncertain.
“We’ve just to get healthy,” Jackson said. We’ve got a lot of kids injured right now.”