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Armwood dethrones the defending champ Dreadnaughts

And quarterback Cam’Ron Ransom has a game of redemption against Lakeland players he grew up with.
Armwood quarterback Cam'Ron Ransom (1) runs for a first down during the first quarter against the Lakeland defense. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
Armwood quarterback Cam'Ron Ransom (1) runs for a first down during the first quarter against the Lakeland defense. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times]
Published Nov. 23

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 wide receiver Agiye Hall, left, celebrates his second touchdown of the night with Jaquavius Gilliespy during the first half vs. Lakeland. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times]

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.

Armwood defensive tackle Desmond Watson (21) tackles Lakeland running back Demarkcus Bowman (1) for a loss of yards. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times]

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.

State semifinals

All games 7:30 p.m. next Friday.

Class 2A

• No. 3 Seffner Christian at No. 1 Hialeah Champagnat

Class 3A

• No. 5 Clearwater Central Catholic at No. 2 Hollywood Chaminade-Madonna

Class 4A

• No. 4 Miami Washington at No. 1 Lakewood

Class 5A

• No. 4 Jesuit at No. 2 Miami Northwestern

Class 6A

• No. 1 Gaither at No. 1 Escambia

Class 7A

• No. 1 Edgewater at No. 1 Armwood

Class 8A

• No. 4 Steinbrenner at No. 3 Apopka

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Clearwater wide receiver Keedrik Murray (5) catches the ball for a touchdown during the first quarter at Gaither High on Nov. 15. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
    The 25th edition of the game will be held at Clearwater High.
  2. Clemson co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott talks with receivers Mike Williams (7) and Artavis Scott (3) during a 2016 game at FSU. Scott was named USF's coach Monday. [DAVID GROOMS/CAL SPORT MEDIA  |  ZUMAPRESS.com]
    Though not the bay area’s primary recruiter for Clemson, Scott’s fingerprints are all over the region.
  3. Tampa Catholic's Alijah Harrison attempts to block the ball from Andrew Jackson's Logan West during last year's state semifinals in Lakeland. [LUIS SANTANA  |  Times]
    Tampa Catholic holds on to the top spot after an impressive opening week.
  4. Tampa Bay Tech's Amiya Evans (30) drives the ball during the first half of the state championship game between Tampa Bay Tech and St. Thomas Aquinas last season in Lakeland. [Times]
    The big three stays the same, but Wesley Chapel moves up a slot in our latest rankings.
  5. Tampa Prep's Grace Langston (50), left, works to disrupt a shot attempt by Wesley Chapel's Mia Nicholson (12) during the game on Friday. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  TImes]
    The Wildcats lead early, then hang on to improve to 5-0 on the season.
  6. Cambridge Christian coach Bob Dare and wife Beth at the 2015 state championship in Orlando. [BOB DARE  |  Special to the Times]
    The longtime Lancers coach, who led the program to the state title game in 2015, will no longer be a coach or teacher at the school.
  7. River Ridge senior Brandi Willard is among the area leaders in points per game so far this season. [SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times]
    Our offensive and defensive leaders for Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco and Hernando counties.
  8. Academy of the Holy Names senior Madison Kurtz, right, gets congratulated by sophomore Nicole Sakre after scoring a goal in a 4-0- victory over Steinbrenner early this season. [SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times]
    The Jaguars, who came up short at state a year ago, expect to remain energized and focused all the way to a title.
  9. Jalen Cooper is among a group of seniors on the Anclote roster who have been playing together since middle school. [SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times]
    A three-point loss in last season’s playoffs spark the Sharks to strive for more.
  10. Seffner Christian doesn't shy away from tough competition, taking on a team that reached state last season in its season opener. [DIRK SHADD  |  Times]
    The defending state finalist Crusaders rally from a 20-point deficit only to watch host Lakewood Ranch sink a free throw as time expires.
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