In battle of South Florida heavyweights, Chaminade-Madonna holds off Miami Central to stay undefeated

Chaminade-Madonna had its high-powered offense on display in the first half and they stepped up on defense in the second half to make a statement against four-time defending state champion Miami Central, winning 31-28 in front of a national televised audience on Thursday night.

Senior quarterback Cedrick Bailey passed for four touchdowns in the first half and senior Curtis Janvier recorded two interceptions in the second half as the Lions remained unbeaten in a highly anticipated contest between two nationally ranked teams at Traz Powell Stadium in Miami.

Chaminade-Madonna (5-0) played in their fifth straight game against a nationally ranked team to begin the season. The Lions previously defeated St. Frances Academy (Maryland), Cardinal Gibbons, Bergen Catholic (New Jersey) and American Heritage. Chaminade-Madonna has won 20 consecutive regular season games dating back to 2021.

“It means a lot to represent Broward County,” Chaminade-Madonna coach Dameon Jones said. “We have played a tough schedule and we knew it was going to be a battle. I am proud of our team and the way we have played. We are showing that it’s now our time.”

Miami Central (1-2) entered the contest as the No. 4-ranked team nationally by MaxPreps while Chaminade-Madonna was ranked at No. 5. Chaminade-Madonna also entered the game as high as No. 3 in the High School Football America 300 national rankings. The battle between the two powerhouse schools was televised on ESPN2.

Bailey, a North Carolina State commit, finished with 301 passing yards and four touchdowns. He had 266 passing yards in the first half.

“He has been big for us all year,” Jones said. “He is a great leader and a winner.”

Chaminade-Madonna five-star receiver and Ohio State commit Jeremiah Smith delivered once again for the Lions as he scored two touchdowns in the first half.

The start of the game was delayed by 1 hour, 45 minutes due to lightning. The two teams were locked in a 14-14 tie at the end of the first quarter. Chaminade-Madonna had a 31-21 advantage at halftime. The Lions led 31-28 at the end of the third quarter. The Lions were held scoreless in the second half, but their defense created two turnovers and secured the victory.

“I am so proud of our defense and our coaches,” Jones said. “We did a great job of making big plays.”

Chaminade-Madonna made a defensive stand in the fourth quarter after Miami Central had moved the ball inside the 5-yard line. The Lions defense recorded a sack on third down. The Rockets missed a 26-yard field goal attempt with 7:31 left in the fourth.

The Lions attempted a fake punt at midfield on their next possession, but a holding penalty negated a first-down run. They were forced to punt and the Rockets took over at their own 23 with 4:16 remaining.

The Rockets converted on fourth-and-3 at their own 42 after a 4-yard completion. Senior defensive end Bryce Stringer recorded a sack on the next play, which resulted in an 8-yard loss for the Rockets. The Lions committed a pass interference penalty on third down.

The Lions defense stepped up as University of Miami commit Zaquan Patterson deflected a pass in the air and Janvier recorded the interception in the middle of the field with 1:13 left to help seal the victory. Janvier, a FAU commit, also had an interception in the third quarter.

The Rockets attempted a Hail Mary toward the end zone on the final play of the game and the Lions defense knocked it down for an incomplete pass.

The Lions made a statement with an 11-play, 99-yard scoring drive to open the game. Bailey fired a 28-yard scoring pass to junior wide receiver Kyle Washington in the right corner of the end zone with 7:59 left in the first quarter.

The Rockets responded as sophomore running back Jayden Ford raced up the middle for a 13-yard score with 5:24 left in the first.

The Lions answered back and marched downfield as Bailey connected with Smith for an 8-yard
touchdown with 2:19 left.

Miami Central senior JC Evans rushed for an 8-yard touchdown to tie the score with 1:08 remaining in the opening period.

The Lions converted on fourth-and-9 at the Rockets 35 after University of Miami commit Joshisa Trader made a one-handed catch for a 17-yard gain. Senior kicker Andrew Abu-Akel drilled a 38-yard field goal to give the Lions a 17-14 advantage with 11:05 left in the first half.

The Rockets jumped ahead for the first time on their next possession. Senior quarterback Antonio Smith launched a 30-yard scoring pass to senior wide receiver and Florida State commit Lawayne McCoy to make it 21-17 with 9:40 left in the second quarter.

The Lions regained the lead as Smith made a spectacular one-handed catch for an 18-yard touchdown with 6:00 left in the first half.
Bailey connected with sophomore Denairius Gray over the middle in the end zone for a 14-yard touchdown to extend the lead to 31-21 with 1:53 left in the first half.

Miami Central junior running back King Davis rushed for a 3-yard touchdown on the opening drive of the second half to cut the deficit to 31-28 with 7:08 left in the third quarter.  Janvier stepped up with an interception at the Lions 25 later in the third quarter. Miami Central junior Amari Wallace recorded an interception on the ensuing drive.

Chaminade-Madonna has won two straight state titles and reached the state championship game in seven consecutive seasons. Miami Central, which has won four consecutive state championships, had a 26-game win streak snapped by Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) earlier in the season.