As it turns out, Armwood's offense isn't the only Hawks unit capable of putting up a lot of points. The defense showed Friday night it is capable of putting up big numbers, too.
While the Hawks defense allowed a season-high in points, the unit forced six turnovers and produced as many touchdowns as it allowed to power Armwood to a 50-20 victory over Tampa Bay Tech in a Class 4A region semifinal at Lyle Flagg Field.
"Our defense played outstanding," defensive end Ryne Giddins said. "Our defense had to step it up. We stepped up."
Tampa Bay Tech put together the best start possible by driving for a touchdown on its opening possession, which had the crowd at Armwood's home stadium silent by the time it ended. Antonio Wallace capped a 15-play, 92-yard drive that chewed up 9:24 off the clock with a 7-yard touchdown run, giving the Titans a 6-0 lead and putting Armwood (12-0) in a hole for the first time all season.
But the Hawks defense responded in a big way, forcing turnovers on the Titans' next three possessions, two of which were fumbles that were returned for touchdowns.
Giddins produced the first score, picking up a loose ball at the 7 and running in for a score after tackle Theodore Jackson forced a fumble with a sack of quarterback Angel Rodriguez. Defensive back Quinton Brown produced the second, scooping up a fumble caused by linebacker Casey Callahan and returning it 10 yards for a score.
The defensive scores helped Armwood take a 15-6 lead into halftime.
"I told the guys they had to man up," linebacker Petey Smith said. "That changed the whole course of the game."
But the Titans (10-2) wouldn't go away. Armwood's offense finally came to life in the second half and got touchdown runs from quarterback Mywan Jackson on consecutive possessions, but Rodriguez kept Tampa Bay Tech in the game by throwing a pair of touchdown passes. The second scoring pass cut the Titans' deficit to 29-20 with 11:09 left in the fourth quarter, and Tampa Bay Tech caught a huge break by recovering an Armwood fumble deep in its territory to stay in the game.
However, the Hawks defense again rose to the challenge, forcing turnovers on three consecutive Titans possession in the fourth quarter.
Armwood freshman running back Matt Jones then produced two fourth-quarter touchdown runs, and Giddins put the icing on the cake, returning an interception 16 yards for the Hawks' final score with 4:39 remaining in the game.
"We still haven't played our best game yet," Armwood coach Sean Callahan said. "I think it's coming, though."
TBT 6068-20Armwood0151421-50 T-Wallace 7 run (kick failed)
A-Giddins 7 fumble return (run failed)
A-Brown 10 fumble return (run failed)
A-FG Schmiz 27
A-M. Jackson 2 run (Schmiz kick)
T-C. Jackson 48 pass from Rodriguez (run failed)
A-M. Jackson 36 run (Schmiz kick)
T-McNeal 39 pass from Rodriguez (Wallace run)
A-M. Jones 21 run (Schmiz kick)
A-M. Jones 6 run (Schmiz kick)
A-Giddins 16 interception return (Schmiz kick)