A 12th state football championship will have to wait for Bolles.
The Bulldogs scored on their second play of the game but Cardinal Gibbons was in control after that in a 35-21 loss in the Class 4A state championship game on Thursday afternoon in Tallahassee’s Doak Campbell Stadium.
The Chiefs scored 35 unanswered points before a kickoff return for a touchdown by Davis Ellis with just over two minutes to play halted that drought. The Bulldogs made a push to get back in the game, blocking a punt and tacking on another touchdown but the 28-point hole was too steep to climb out of.
The area wrapped up its season with three state finalists and one champion.
University Christian fell to Hialeah Champagnat Catholic in the Class 2A championship (41-27) and Trinity Christian roared back to stun Hollywood Chaminade Madonna (25-22) in the Class 3A title game on Wednesday.
Bolles will have to wait another season to try and add to its title haul. The Bulldogs have been stuck on 11 titles since winning their last in 2011 with a victory over a heavily favored Miami Booker T. Washington.
Bolles has played for six other championships in that span, but lost each one. Iconic coach Corky Rogers led the Bulldogs to state runner-up finishes in 2012-14 and ’16. Matt Toblin has taken Bolles to back-to-back championship games. The Bulldogs lost to Washington 25-21 last season.
The Bulldogs (10-3) struck fast, with running back Kade Frew taking Bolles’ second offensive snap and turning it into a 60-yard touchdown run.
Things spiraled from there.
Bolles’ next six drives ended in a series of punts, turnover on downs and an interception as Gibbons took control.
The Chiefs (8-1) got stronger as the game went on. Gibbons scored on its next two possessions, both on touchdown passes from Brody Palhegyi. His 4-yard pass to Jesse Anderson tied things up and a 7-yarder to Troy Stellato put the Chiefs in front to stay. Palhegyi was near-perfect against the Bolles defense. He finished 29 of 33 passing for 358 yards and four touchdowns.
Bolles tacked on a pair of late touchdowns to get out of what was a 35-7 deficit. Ellis returned a kickoff 75 yards for a touchdown and Mack Marrone blocked a punt that set up a 1-yard scoring run by Frew.
Frew led the Bulldogs with 121 yards rushing on 16 carries. Ellis was swamped by the Gibbons defense. He had just one catch for 33 yards, although that catch set up Frew’s final scoring run.