SANTA CRUZ, Jamaica — Jahiem Harris's classy double spurred Edwin Allen High to a dramatic 3-2 victory over St Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS) in the Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association Ben Francis Cup final on Friday.
The trophy is a historic one for Edwin Allen, who were contesting their first-ever senior schoolboy football final.
Negus Daley gave STETHS a 16th-minute lead on their home patch in Santa Cruz but Edwin Allen's Alwayen Bryan levelled the 2021-2022 Ben Francis Cup contest in the 47th.
Harris gave Edwin Allen a come-from-behind 2-1 advantage with a deft finish in the 63rd minute.
Just when it seemed momentum had decidedly swung in favour of the Clarendon-based school, many-time champions STETHS got a lifeline when Davin Wright scored in the 85th minute.
But there was a final twist in the 89th minute of the topsy-turvy encounter when Harris blasted home the pick of his two goals to hand Edwin Allen the lead for good in the battle for a hold on the rural area's second-tier football title.
Tafari Burton, head coach of Edwin Allen, said his team bounced back after a nervy start.
“It's a final and we are coaching kids so nothing is wrong with butterflies. It was obvious they didn't know how to deal with the moment,” he said in a post-match interview.
“When they settled down they realised they could match those boys. In the second half they took the lead and that's where their confidence was boosted,” Burton explained.
STETHS's Coach Omar Wedderburn said his players were caught off guard when their opponents adopted a more direct approach in the second half.
“In a final you have to expect anything, and I think we didn't deal with certain situations good in the game today, the coverage for the long passes,” he told the Jamaica Observer.
“This is one of the toughest games I've ever lost because the guys fought hard and got back in the game,” Wedderburn said.
Previously, in the sunny and hot early afternoon conditions, STETHS entered the half-time break with a deserved lead, thanks to Daley.
Edwin Allen, though spirited, were comfortably thwarted by favourites STETHS, who had beaten Frome Technical 1-0 to earn their spot in the final.
History-making Edwin Allen, who had registered a 4-0 win over Manchester High in the semi-finals, eventually came into their own.
Bryan scored inside the opening two minutes of the second half to stun STETHS before Harris took control.
Harris drilled a low left-footer home just past the hour mark to give Edwin Allen their first lead of the day.
Wright made it 2-2 when he rose to nod home a header after Edwin Allen failed to effectively clear the ball.
As a penalty kick shoot-out loomed Harris scored with a fantastic shot from outside the box to secure history for Edwin Allen.
— Sanjay Myers