In a game featuring two of South Florida’s most unheralded and underrated running backs, it was Mater Academy’s Daniel Doriscar and his 174 rushing yards that led the Lions to a 35-21 victory over visiting Cooper City Thursday night during the region 4-7A regional quarterfinals at Milander Stadium.READ MORE: Florida Records Highest One-Day Total Of COVID Cases With 21,000
Doriscar, who finished fourth in Miami-Dade County in total rushing in 2015, battled through a slight ankle injury to rush for the game-high yard total as well as score three touchdowns – two coming from 30 yards out and two of them in the second half.
Mater Academy (10-1) will face the winner of Doral Academy (8-2) and Hollywood McArthur (10-0) next Friday in the region 4-7A regional semifinals.
Lions head coach Rocco Casullo said that Doriscar showed the kind of running back he is Thursday night.
“That’s how he works,” Casullo said about Doriscar, who’s earned the nickname “Steak Sauce” from teammates and coaches. “He’s that kind of guy, ‘keep giving me the ball, keep feeding me and I’ll keep going’. I’m proud of him and we needed him tonight and he came through strong.”
“I think the guys buckled down and they are understanding what it takes to earn playoff wins,” Casullo added.
After Mater fell behind 7-0 in the first quarter, the Lions went on to score 28 straight points to take control of the game. Doriscar tied the game at seven with his first score of the night – an inside run that he took 30 yards through the middle of the Cooper City defense.
Doriscar said that he’s been motivated to work his way back from injuries and produce big yards thanks to a former middle school classmate.
“I had to get back right and I have to get back to near the top because I want to compete with my boy [Northwestern running back] Kai Henry,” Doriscar said. “We went to middle school together and I want to get up there with him.”READ MORE: Hundreds Attend 'Down With The Chains' Rally At Bayfront Park For Freedom For Cuba, Venezuela & Nicaragua
Senior quarterback Kaywon Hanna added a pair of touchdowns during the scoring run. He connected with senior receiver Travon Roberts for a 19-yard touchdown pass to give the Lions a 14-7 halftime lead and he extended the lead to 28-7 with a 30-yard scramble with just under two minutes left in the third quarter.
Hanna also completed five of 12 passes for 113 yards.
Mater Academy rushed for a total of 249 yards and was able to get splash plays from both its defense – a Nez Dacosta interception and a fumble recovery – and its special teams – a long kickoff return by Jamal Cooney, which set up a 2-yard Doriscar touchdown plunge.
Cooper City, which earned its playoff spot by rallying from a 14-point deficit to defeat South Broward, put on an impressive rushing display as well.
Cowboys senior running back Tyler Brown, who rushed for 1,043 yards and 12 touchdowns during the regular season, finished his high school career with another standout performance – totaling 173 yards and two touchdowns on a game-high 31 carries.
It was Brown who put Cooper City (4-6) ahead 7-0 midway through the first quarter with a 1-yard dive and he punctuated his career with a physical 6-yard scoring run, in which he bowled over a Mater Academy defender – drawing a collective “ooh” from the crowd.
Cooper City junior quarterback Michael DiLiello rushed for 31 yards and capped off a late scoring drive with a 1-yard touchdown run to make the final margin 35-14 with just over three minutes to play.
Cowboys head coach Brandon Walker, the son of Archbishop McCarthy head coach Byron Walker, said replacing a player like Brown will be hard to do.
“[Tyler’s] heart and his desire to be successful will be hard to replace,” Walker said. “But we have some good young kids. Getting to the playoffs was big for us…these guys are hungry now. So the goal is to get back here next year.”MORE NEWS: Royal Caribbean Expands COVID Testing Requirements