Football High School

Daniel Longman Hits Game-Winning Field Goal, Lifts Chaminade To 3A Title

ORLANDO – For all the strong, hulking athletes that do amazing things on the football field – sometimes games are decided by the wiry kicker.

After Chaminade-Madonna saw its 14-point lead evaporate over the final 10 minutes of the game, the Lions drove down the field to the 2-yard line in with eight seconds left on the clock and set the stage for senior kicker Daniel Longman to nail a 19-yard field goal and lift the Lions to a 31-28 victory over Palm Beach Oxbridge Academy Saturday in the Class 3A state championship game at Orlando Camping World Stadium.

After Longman, an extraordinarily apropos name for a kicker, easily split the uprights with his kick, Oxbridge had four seconds for a miracle kickoff return, but Chaminade brought down the Thunderwolves returner with little drama – lifting the Lions to their first football state title since 2005.

Longman, who was honored before the game as his team’s top scholar-athlete said he was extremely calm before the kick.

“It was just like practice…just like kicking an extra point,” Longman said.

Chaminade second-year head coach Dameon Jones, who was abruptly thrust into leading the Lions’ program right before the start of the 2016 season but has led the team to back to back state championship game appearances, said he had total confidence in his kicker.

“I would’ve been confident in him even it was from 40 yards out,” Jones said. “I knew Daniel would’ve made it…I had complete confidence and wasn’t worried at all.”

Before Longman played the role of hero, his teammates put together an impressive offensive drive to get in scoring position.

The Thunderwolves put a pair of touchdowns – two Gio Richardson touchdown passes – on the board in a matter of four minutes midway through the fourth quarter to even the score at 28 with 3:27 left to play.

Beginning the drive on their own 29-yard line, junior quarterback Daelen Menard made two big plays – completing an 11-yard pass to senior receiver Akeem Hayes on a third down and scrambling for a 23-yard gain to put Chaminade in Oxbridge territory.

Then the Lions (11-2) handed the ball to its star running back Shaun Shivers – giving the senior the ball on five straight plays, resulting in 31 yards and grinding the clock down to eight seconds before taking a timeout to set up Longman.

Jones said giving the ball to Shivers was an easy decision.

“We’ve been riding [Shivers] all year and we were going to keep feeding him,” Jones said. “He carried us to this point and I knew he’d do it again today.”

Despite his 5-foot-7, 175-pound stature, Shivers has been a “work horse” ball carrier for the Lions for the past three seasons. Saturday was no different, as he ran for a game-high 216 yards and two first-half touchdowns on 30 carries.

He came into Saturday’s state final having rushed for just over 2,000 yards and pushed his season total to 2,241 with his performance against the Thunderwolves. Also, Shivers clinched his third straight season with 20 rushing touchdowns while finishing his career with nearly 5,000 rushing yards.

Shaun Shivers, an Auburn commit, said the image of watching another team – Jacksonville Trinity Christian – win the state title in 2016 propelled him this year to win the trophy for the Lions.

Menard ended up throwing for 144 yards (5-of-9) with two touchdown passes – a 44-yard connection to Hayes to put Chaminade up 14-7 in the second quarter and 55-yard strike to Alabama-commit Xavier Williams to give the Lions a 28-14 lead late in the third quarter.

Hayes finished with four catches for 89 yards while Williams had the lone touchdown grab.

While Chaminade had gone toe-to-toe with some of South Florida’s top teams (Miami Central, Miramar, Miami Booker T. Washington and eventual Class 5A state champion Plantation American Heritage), it had its hands full with Oxbridge Academy (10-2) Saturday.

The Lions defense bent quite a bit, struggling to contain Gio Richardson. The athletic 6-foot-1, 200-pound junior moved around in the pocket, extending plays and finding receivers with pinpoint throws. Richardson ended up completing 16 of his 33 passes for 286 yards and running for a team-high 53 yards while accounting for all of Oxbridge’s touchdowns.

Still, the Chaminade defense did end up keeping the Thunderwolves out of the end zone in what turned out to be a crucial series early in the third quarter – forcing a turnover on downs after Oxbridge had driven down to the Lions 11-yard line.

Jones, who had spent a handful of years in two stints at Hallandale before coming to Chaminade, was reflective after the game.

“I just want to thank all of the people – my family, friends, my players and my coaches – who believed in me along the way,” Jones said. “This is truly a blessing, I just have to thank God.”

J.T. Wilcox
J.T. Wilcox is an award-winning sports journalist who has worked in South Florida for more than a decade. He authors "The Bald Predictions" blog and "The Baldcast" podcast.

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