TAMPA — Nevermind that Blake scored a go-ahead touchdown with 87 seconds left in the game.
Forgive him, but part of Robinson junior Lateef Al-Shaa’ir was hoping it would happen just so it would set up a comeback.
And it did.
With 24 seconds left in the game, Al-Shaa’ir took handoff, ran right, stiff-armed a single Blake defender and found himself in the end zone. After the extra point, Robinson led 28-25 and it proved to be the difference during Friday’s Homecoming win. With the win, the Knights improved to 3-2 (1-0 in Class 5A, District 10). With the loss, the Blake fell to 1-3, 0-1.
"I trusted in the play, and I knew I had the ability and the coaches had the ability," Al-Shaa’ir said. "When they called Power-I rhino, I knew I was going to get into the end zone."
When he did cross the goal line, the emotion flew. Al-Shaa’ir snapped off his chin strap and excitedly tossed his helmet to the ground as teammates swarmed.
"I love this game, and I know people around me love this game, and I just tried to show my best effort," Al-Shaa’ir said. "I had to show intensity for my team because we need that. Our team needs energy so I try to bring it every play."
Knights coach Craig Everhart — in a different way — seemed glad the drama built up the way it did with Omarion Coleman running for an 8-yard touchdown to put the Yellow Jackets up late in the fourth quarter.
"That’s the one moment in the offseason that you try to prepare for," Everhart said. "These are the games you’ve got to figure out how to win, and that’s been the main thing to overcome. I was proud of them for rallying together."
Perhaps the most impressive drive was a run by quarterback Kobe Copple. With the clock waning down, the senior ran a hard 17 yards in which he helicoptered himself for a key first down. Combined with another rushing touchdown, Everhart had high praise for his quarterback.
"He’s a ball player and has come a long way," Everhart said. "The amount of 7-on-7 work that he did helped us to trust him and he’s got the keys to the offense right now."
While the win was sweet for Robinson, that meant it was bitter for Blake as it spoiled a great game for Coleman, the junior running back who had three touchdowns and 212 rushing yards on 37 carries.
Early on, things looked promising for the Yellow Jackets, who on their opening possession marched 75 yards down the field on just seven plays that finished when Coleman punched it in from 4 out. Six minutes later, Coleman again found the end zone, rushing from 7 yards out for the score, putting Blake up 13-0.
But back came the Knights.
Robinson’s first score came early in the second quarter Copple lobbed a deep 28-yard pass just past the goal line to Lothario Overstreet to climb back to 13-6.
Using a fumble recovery on a botched handoff exchange by the Yellow Jackets, the Knights had a short field to work with. Kyriece Lake took full advantage as he punched it in from 2 yards, giving Robinson the 14-13 lead.
The Knights used that momentum on their first drive out of the half. A steady attack with three first downs culminated with a 13-yard quarterback keeper to the right for Copple to go up 21-13. The Jackets responded toward the end of the third with a 6-yard run by Coleman, but a pass play on the two-point conversion fell incomplete, making it 21-19.