TARPON SPRINGS — Four quarters wasn't enough Friday night at East Lake.
The Eagles went blow for blow with nationally ranked Palm Beach Gardens Dwyer but fell agonizingly short, losing their first Class 7A state semifinal 31-24 in overtime.
Dwyer will play Niceville next Friday night for the Class 7A state championship.
“That's what football's about right there,” said East Lake coach Bob Hudson, “two teams giving it everything they got. We came out on the wrong end, but that was fantastic.”
Dwyer cornerback Brandon Wilson sealed the game when he jumped and picked off East Lake quarterback Jake Hudson's third-down pass in overtime.
The Panthers, who started the extra period with the ball, went up 31-24 with quarterback Daniel Parr's 3-yard run.
Parr led Dwyer's potent offense by completing 22 of 29 passes for 302 yards and two scores. The junior connected on his first 14 attempts spanning into the third quarter.
Coming into the night as an underdog for the first time all season, East Lake (13-1) and its high-energy crowd let Dwyer know intimidation by reputation was not going to be a factor. The Eagles jumped ahead 7-0 late in the first when star athlete Artavis Scott zipped around the left side for a 2-yard touchdown.
Though a non-factor receiving Friday, Scott rushed for 81 yards on 13 touches, threw for a 65-yard score to George Campbell on a trick play and snatched a huge late-game interception.
“Big players make big plays in big games,” Hudson said of Scott. “So that's what he did.”
After playing to a 10-10 tie after three, Dwyer (14-0) appeared to begin putting East Lake away. Parr found Dixon for their second long sideline hookup to go ahead 17-10 and the Panthers went up 24-10 on linebacker Jarrad Ward's pick-six of Jake Hudson four minutes later.
East Lake answered quickly with the Scott-to-Campbell score on the next play from scrimmage. With an electric crowd spurring them on, the Eagles defense answered with Scott's interception of Parr. East Lake forced overtime with an 11-yard, fourth-and-goal touchdown pass from Hudson to Devin Abraham over the middle.
Dwyer 7 3 0 14 7 — 31
East Lake 7 0 3 14 0 — 24
EL – Scott 2 run (LaCamera kick)
D – Dixon 75 pass from Parr (Shapiro kick)
D – Shapiro 30 FG
EL – LaCamera 33 FG
D – Dixon 37 pass from Parr (Shapiro kick)
D – Ward 36 INT return (Shapiro kick)
EL – Campbell 65 pass from Scott (LaCamera kick)
EL – Abraham 11 pass from Hudson (LaCamera kick)
D – Parr 3 run (Shapiro kick)