SEFFNER — As the final seconds ticked away, Armwood quarterback Cam’Ron Ransom could not contain his joy.
The Hawks knocked off defending Class 7A state champion Lakeland 23-10 in the region final. It marked the first time Armwood had ever beaten the Dreadnaughts.
For Ransom, this victory had even more meaning. The junior grew up across the street from Lakeland High and envisioned playing for that powerful program before moving last year.
On Friday, he had a hand in beating them.
“This is big,” Ransom said. “I’m from Lakeland. I knew all those players. I dreamed of playing there as a kid. And we just got past them.”
This moment also was about redemption.
In last week’s win over Bloomingdale, Ransom was pulled in the third quarter after some costly turnovers. He did not start against Lakeland, the team he wanted more than anything to defeat.
But he never sulked. He never complained. He kept practicing, kept encouraging his teammates.
Ransom would not just sit on the bench. The plan was still to rotate playing time with the Hawks’ other quarterback, Hunter Helton.
And when Ransom’s team needed him most, he delivered.
Armwood (12-1) fumbled on its opening possession deep in its own territory. That lead to a Dreadnaughts field goal and a 3-0 deficit.
Ransom entered on the next series. The drive was stalling. The Hawks faced third and long. Ransom took the snap, scrambled to his left to avoid the rush and lofted a pass to Agiye Hall, who got behind the coverage on a 54-yard scoring strike.
“I knew I had to step up for my team, and I was able to do it at the right time,” Ransom said.
The biggest matchup in Friday’s game was Arnwood’s stifling defense going up against Lakeland running back Demarkcus Bowman, a Clemson commit who is ranked the No. 2 overall player in the 2020 class.
Bowman can be bottled up for a few plays before finding daylight and turning on the afterburners. Sure enough, that’s what happened on the next series. Bowman broke free on a 46-yard touchdown run.
No matter. The Hawks answered with some razzle-dazzle.
Ransom took the snap, pitched the ball back to Helton, who scrambled before finding Hall on a 24-yard scoring pass. Moments later, Tavaris Thomas stepped in front of a Lakeland pass and returned it 30 yards for a touchdown.
The Dreadnaughts (12-1) never recovered.
Bowman was stuffed the rest of the night and the Hawks continued to force turnovers with Noah Biglow and Jalil Core each recording interceptions.
Ahead by 10 in the fourth quarter, Armwood connected on a 27-yard field goal for a 23-10 lead. In the final three minutes, Ransom sealed it with a 58-yard run deep into Lakeland territory.
Afterward, Ransom posed for pictures with some family members and Lakeland players he grew up with. Then he headed over to his Armwood teammates to celebrate.
“This is a memorable night,” he said.
All games 7:30 p.m. next Friday.
• No. 3 Seffner Christian at No. 1 Hialeah Champagnat
• No. 5 Clearwater Central Catholic at No. 2 Hollywood Chaminade-Madonna
• No. 4 Miami Washington at No. 1 Lakewood
• No. 4 Jesuit at No. 2 Miami Northwestern
• No. 1 Gaither at No. 1 Escambia
• No. 1 Edgewater at No. 1 Armwood
• No. 4 Steinbrenner at No. 3 Apopka