THE ROAD TO NO. 1
A continuing look at Fort Pierce Central’s run to the Class 4A state championship in 1971
GAME 12: CLASS 4A STATE SEMIFINAL VS. NORLAND
DEC. 10, 1971 / ORANGE BOWL, MIAMI
Fort Pierce Central 14, Miami Norland 13
Using the same “double pass” that helped Central ended Tallahassee-Leon’s 25-game winning streak in the 1970 Class 2A semifinals, the Cobras rallied from a 13-7 fourth-quarter deficit to earn their second consecutive trip to the state final. Quarterback Cleaver Hayling hit Jackie Bea in the right flat, and Bea tossed to a wide-open Mike Latimer to complete the 51-yard touchdown play early in the fourth quarter. David Sowerby’s extra point was the difference.
Hayling and Latimer hooked up on an 80-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter … Norland answered with an 82-yard drive capped by Jeff Leggett’s 25-yard touchdown run … Norland went ahead on quarterback Mike Kypriss’ 20-yard slant pass to Mike Taylor in the second quarter, but Central’s Willie Gordon blocked Wilbur Summers’ extra-point try … After Central’s go-ahead touchdown, the Vikings had a chance to win. Summers missed a 30-yard field goal, but an offside penalty against Central gave the Vikings first and goal at the 9. One second down from the 3, the center snap went bewteen Kypriss’ legs and Central’s Mike Latimer recovered with 4:44 to play.
STATS THAT MATTER
Norland had a 334-226 edge in total yards, but the Cobras forced four turnovers — giving them 10 in two playoff games — and sacked Kypriss five times … Fort Pierce Central had just 85 yards rushing.
“That’s some kind of wild playing to win a ball game,” Fort Pierce Central coach Calvin Triplett said. … “We didn’t fumble but one or twice all year and tonight we get out here when it really counts and can’t keep our hands on the ball,” Norland coach Bill Dawkins said.
The Cobras worked out on the Orange Bowl’s Polyturf surface the day before the game … In 11 previous games, Fort Pierce Central allowed an average of minus-1 punt return yards per game.
DID YOU KNOW?
Dawkins coached Norland from 1958 to 1978 and was the first 100-win coach in the program’s 54-year history. His 1966 team lost the district title to Miami on touchdown passes off double reverses. “I had my best two teams ever in 1966 and this year, and just three plays stopped us from going all the way both years.”
CLASS 4A SEMIFINALS (ranking in parentheses)
(8) Robinson (8-1-2) 20, (9) Choctawhatchee (9-3) 7; (1) Fort Pierce Central (12-0) 14, (3) Miami Norland 13
Class 4A state championship vs. Tampa-Robinson, Dec. 17, 1971