Central’s football team has been three time zones away from its hometown for most of this week.
But as South Floridians have been preparing for the onslaught of Hurricane Irma, the Rockets haven’t stopped thinking about their community.
"We did it for our city," Central senior running back James Cook said postgame on the ESPNU broadcast.
As the storm neared the South Florida area in the early hours Saturday morning, the Rockets secured a major victory across the country in Las Vegas by defeating three-time defending national champion Bishop Gorman 24-20.
Miami Central (3-0), ranked No. 16 nationally by USA Today, flew out to Vegas on Wednesday morning – something it had planned to do even before the storm first became a threat.
But with the hurricane set to affect the Miami area on Saturday and Sunday, the Rockets will have to remain in Las Vegas until at least Monday.
Bishop Gorman faculty and coaches pitched in and will reportedly help Central cover the added expenses of remaining on the west coast for an additional couple of days.
"I’m so proud of Central nation and they did a tremendous job representing South Florida tonight," Central coach Roland Smith said after the game on the broadcast. "Our hearts and our prayers are with everyone back home and we hope they can weather the storm well like we were able to here in Vegas against these guys."
Ironically, Central had to wait nearly an hour to begin the game due to a lightning delay in the Vegas area.
Once the action began, Cook, the highly sought after running back recruit and younger brother of former Rockets and FSU star Dalvin Cook, led the inspired Rockets with 202 yards rushing on 13 carries.
Cook did the bulk of his damage on two breakaway touchdown runs of 83 and 87 yards. The first gave the Rockets their first points of the game in the second quarter. The latter virtually sealed the outcome with 2:27 left in the fourth quarter, giving Central a 24-14 lead.
"I just told those guys to stay focused and just play football the way we know we can," Cook said.
-Bishop Gorman, which had its 55-game winning streak snapped last week against No. 1 ranked Mater Dei, lost consecutive games for the first time since 2006.
-Gorman scored with nine seconds remaining when backup quarterback Micah Bowens found University of Miami commit Brevin Jordan for a touchdown.
The Gaels recovered the ensuing onside kick at Central’s 41.
But Bowens’ Hail Mary pass as time expired was incomplete.
-Cook wasn’t the only Central tailback with a huge rushing output.
Freshman Amari Daniels finished with 97 yards on five carries. On his first touch, Daniels broke a 78-yard touchdown run.
-Central’s defense came up with a couple of early stands that kept the game scoreless, and Chris Metayer had a huge interception at Central’s 5-yard line with four minutes left to preserve a 17-14 lead.
-Rockets’ receiver Terrell Perriman limped off the field after a catch in the first quarter and did not return.
-Central has another date with a nationally-ranked opponent on Sept. 22 when they’re scheduled to travel to Bradenton to take on No. 2 IMG Academy. The Rockets are scheduled to play Miami Edison on Thursday night. But that game could be rescheduled depending on conditions in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.
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