Dade County Crowned 2016 6th-Grade FBU National Champions
Two southeastern powerhouses proved to be two of best talents in 6th-grade. Only one would be crowned 2016 6th-Grade Football University National Champions in Naples, Florida.
GFL received and stayed on course with their modus operandi from the tournament: run first with Caleb Downs, Jordan Davenport and the big GFL line. A costly offside penalty on 4th & 4 continued the long drive as GFL continued to chew the clock. Dade's roster features just 14 players, and GFL took advantage by pounding the football. Dade's bend-but-don't-break defense stopped GFL to force another 4th down - but Caleb Downs galloped in from 11-yards out to deliver the first strike of the gameto give GFL a 6-0 advantage. Their first drive took more than 7:00 off the clock, and Dade had their backs against the wall trailing and not having the ball yet.
Dade took over after a draining defensive series with a short field, starting at their own 47, but were immediately shut down as GFL stood their ground and forced a punt.
Dade pinned GFL inside their own 10 and forced a three and out. The resulting punt by GFL went only as far as the line of scrimmage, giving Dade County the ball and goal to go. Quarterback D'Angelo Ponds wasted no time bring Dade into the game, throwing a 14-yard touchdown pass to Marcus Williams II and then added a two-point conversion to take an 8-6 lead.
Dade County's 6th-Grade Team Before Kickoff
Naples provided the perfect backdrop for the conclusion of Championship Week, truly living up to its moniker of Athlete Paradise.
Dade continued their revitalized defensive performance on the ensuing possession forcing a turnover on downs with under 4:00 to play in the half and great field position at the GFL 48. Dade was able to build a sustained drive with time running down, and was helped by a personal foul penalty called on GFL on third down. A'Vontae Waldon made a 20-yard statement run down to the one-yard line, and one play later quarterback D'Angelo Ponds just barely snuck in to gave Dade a 14-6 lead heading to halftime.
Dade County QB D'Angelo Ponds reaches across the goal line just before the half
GFL controlled the first quarter, Dade countered and controlled the second semmingly possessing all the momentum heading to the break.
Dade couldn't have wished for a better start to the second half, as Antwon Shepard returned the second half kick for an electrifying 85-yard kick return touchdown. D'Angelo Ponds added a two-point conversion to give Dade a commanding 22-6 lead very early in the third quarter.
GFL took over, and after chewing 7:24 off the clock in the opening drive needed their key players to come up big. But Dade County's defense continued flying to the football and forced another turnover on downs at the GFL 43. To this point, GFL had converted just one first down since their opening drive.
The GFL defense declined to lay down, forcing a three and out to give their offense another shot with 5:51 remaining in Q3. Dade continued to build their strength and speed in the heat of their homestate and took over after a short punt. On third and long, Marcus Williams II scored his second receiving touchdown from D'Angelo Ponds, taking a quick out route to the house on third and long.
GFL RB Caleb Downs refused to go down easy
GFL put together a drive with a short field, and finally cracked the code again on the Dade defense with Caleb Downs featuring heavily on the drive, capping it with a touchdown run of his own. Dade took over after recovering an onside kick and took over with 5:14 left and holding a 28-12 lead. They were forced to give the ball back, but chewed nearly two-and-a-half off the game clock. GFL had one more opportunity to break off a big play and hope for a miracle, taking over with 2:41 remaining. But Marcus Williams II cemented the championship and put clamps on the Most Valuable Player award, taking an intercepted pass back for a touchdown.
Marcus Williams II - 2016 FBU National Championship 6th-Grade MVP
2 receiving touchdowns, 1 INT returned for a TD
With just 14 players on the active roster, Dade County defied the odds and will bring home the 2016 Football University 6th-Grade National Championship home to the 305.
The 2016 Football University 6th-Grade National Champions