For three and a half quarters Saturday night, it looked like South Florida was going to do the impossible considering a season filled with COVID restrictions, game cancellations and the state's governing body seemingly doing everything possible to avoid a repeat of 2019.
History would not repeat itself, however, as Miami Palmetto's attempt at a second field goal would be blocked and returned for a touchdown by Kissimmee Osceola's Bo Mascoe - giving the Kowboys a 9-3 victory in the Class 8A semifinal game inside Traz Powell Stadium.
"These guys have given their all to this program and put it at new heights, but obviously it didn't end the way we wanted for them," said Palmetto head coach Michael Manasco, who led the Panthers to four postseason wins in 2020 after the school at won just five total playoff games since opening in 1958.
Palmetto had been the biggest story of the state playoffs, winning their first four games by a total of 17 points in making the first state semifinal round in program history.
"I love these kids and I'm proud of them. Palmetto's on the map and we finally got our seat at the table," Manasco added.
Palmetto's loss will give Miami-Dade and Broward a total of six teams playing for state championships next weekend - one short of tying last year's record of seven teams who played for and all won championships.
Friday, three more schools punched their tickets to the title game round. Two will get a chance at a title game repeat as Fort Lauderdale's St. Thomas Aquinas rolled in their Class 7A semifinal against Valrico Bloomingdales while Miami Central did the same in the Class 6A semifinal against Palmetto.
Plantation American Heritage fell behind early against Tampa Jesuit before advancing in the Class 5A semifinal on a last second field goal, advancing to their first state title game since 2017.
Three schools from South Florida - Class 4A's Fort Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons, Class 3A's Hollywood Chaminade-Madonna and Class 2A's Hialeah Champagnat Catholic - already advanced last weekend.
Having so many schools from South Florida again making it to this point is seen as a sobering moment to some leadership in the FHSAA, who voted to continue the season last July despite advice from their own medical officials to delay amid the COVID pandemic.
The FHSAA State Football Championships will take place from December 16th to December 19thin Tallahassee at Doak Campbell Stadium on the campus of Florida State University.