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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


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  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]
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