Lakeland shocks ninth-ranked St. Thomas Aquinas for Florida 7A title

Video: CBS HQ Show with Zack Poff
The MaxPreps football editor helps us get ready for championship weekend.

It’s been 10 years since Lakeland (Fla.) and St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) met for a Florida state championships.

This one looked a lot different than the last.

Jaharie Martin rushed for two touchdowns, and Demarkcus Bowman and Fenley Graham added backbreaking scores as Lakeland secured a wire-to-wire 33-20 win over the ninth-ranked Raiders Friday at Camping World Stadium in Orlando.

Demarkcus Bowman rushed for an 80-yard touchdown to open the scoring of Lakeland's 33-20 7A Florida championship win over St. Thomas Aquinas.

Photo by Annette Wilkerson

Demarkcus Bowman rushed for an 80-yard touchdown to open the scoring of Lakeland’s 33-20 7A Florida championship win over St. Thomas Aquinas.

Martin scored on runs of 2 and 1 yards, the second with 5:01 remaining to all but clinch this one, giving Lakeland a 33-14 lead.

This was Lakeland’s fourth state title over St. Thomas in five meeting since 2004. The last time the two teams met, STA won 56-7 in 2008.

Bowman, who rushed for 211 yards, opened the scoring with an 80-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter. The Raiders (13-2) closed to 10-7 early in the third on a 15-yard run by Curt Casteel.

But Graham gave back Lakeland (15-0) all the momentum with a 99-yard kickoff return for touchdown making it 17-7. St. Thomas responded also, this time Daniel Carter scored on a 4-yard run, cutting the lead to 17-14 with 8:18 left in the third.

That’s when Martin took over, scoring his two touchdowns, making it 33-14. Casteel completed a 13-yard touchdown to The’Andris Freeman with less than two minutes left, but Lakeland ran out the clock.

St. Thomas Aquinas played in its fourth state title game in five years. The Raiders lost two fumbles and missed two field goals. In the first quarter, they reached the Lakeland 1, but a false start pushed the ball back to the 6. They then missed a chip shot field goal, setting the tone for a frustrating defeat.

Daniel Carter scored on a 4-yard run for St. Thomas Aquinas to close to 17-14 with 8:18 left in the third quarter.

Photo by Annette Wilkerson

Daniel Carter scored on a 4-yard run for St. Thomas Aquinas to close to 17-14 with 8:18 left in the third quarter.

Photo by Annette Wilkerson