TAMPA — It took a 99-yard drive late in the fourth quarter for Hillsborough (4-2, 4-2 Class 6A-District 8) to come from behind and steal a 22-21 win from a tough Chamberlain (4-3, 4-1) squad Friday. The Terriers offense sputtered in the first half, gaining just 35 total yards (34 on a pass in the final minute of the second quarter), before finally coming to life in the second half. Junior Dwayne Lawson carried the bulk of the second-half load, finishing with 111 yards passing and 103 yards creating a touchdown each with his arm and legs.
Lawson had five completions and two rushes on the field-length drive before hitting Anthony King from 16 yards out with just a minute left to take the lead.
“They have a pretty good player in No. 2,” Chamberlain coach Cam Jones said of Lawson. “We did a pretty good job containing him all night, and we just came up a minute short.”
However, the Chiefs and first-year coach Jones showed they are more than just a second thought in one of the toughest districts in the county, if not the state.
Senior quarterback Josh Bennett was 8-for-14 for 113 yards and two touchdown passes in the game, and the Chiefs defense was in Lawson’s face a good majority of the game, earning high praise from their opponent.
“They are a great team,” Lawson said of Chamberlain. “I’m really hoping they can go out and beat Jefferson.”
With Armwood (6-0) leading the way in 6A-8 with a 5-0 record, it is the Chiefs (with Robinson, Jefferson and Armwood remaining) and Jefferson (with King, Chamberlain and Blake still to go) each at 4-1 in the district and the Terriers hoping for some help at 4-2 in district play.
“We’re Chamberlain fans the next few weeks,” Hillsborough coach Earl Garcia said.
TBT’s Russ has big game despite illness
Tampa Bay Tech senior linebacker Fred Russ had two sacks, recovered a fumble for a touchdown, registered double-digit tackles and carried the ball a few times in the fourth quarter to help the Titans beat Plant City, 38-21, on Friday.
To be so active on the field, one would think Russ was physically at his best, but that wasn’t the case Friday. Russ battled through an illness throughout the game.
“All week,” Russ said. “I threw up three times (Friday). I had to get over it. I knew I had to play the game, and I wanted to help my team out and I did what I had to do.”
Russ leads the team in tackles (54) and fumble recoveries and has two sacks. He is verbally committed to Florida International University.
“It’s mental toughness,” Russ said. “It’s mind over matter. Sometimes you have to do what you have to do to support the family. We’re always a family. We always say, win, lose or draw, we’re a family.”
East Bay’s defense sets offense up for win
Indians coach Frank LaRosa joked Saturday that he’s doubled in age since the season started.
“I feel like I’ve aged 36 years — more than doubled my age,” LaRosa said with a chuckle.
However, LaRosa said after his team squeaked out a 13-12 win over Bloomingdale on Friday, the cardiac ways East Bay (5-2) has found to win are worth the gray hairs they may cause.
The Indians defense was staunch against the Bulls, as linebacker Deondre Romeo set the pace with 14 tackles in the game, while defensive end Eric Latortue had four tackles for a loss, and end Kameron Daniels had three tackles for a loss. However, the night’s best defensive play belonged to Christian Leto, who had eight tackles and a big interception that set up the Indians’ first touchdown.
“Our defense came up big when we needed them to, and we had a huge interception before the half,” LaRosa said. “(Leto) caught the ball and took it all the way down the field to the 2 and set up (quarterback Chris) Carpentier’s touchdown, so that was a big one for us.”
Chris Greene sealed the win after a bad Bloomingdale snap gave the Indians field position on the Bulls’ 19-yard line. The senior back grinded out the deciding drive, carrying the ball six times before finally scoring from 4 yards out. It was Greene’s eighth touchdown of the season and his fourth game-winning score of the season (also notching the deciders in wins against Lennard, Riverview and Plant City).
Versatile Earley a weapon for Patriots
Carrollwood Day junior Elias Earley has clearly had an impact on the Patriots offense this season, with eight rushing touchdowns and 593 yards on the ground; however it may be his overall versatility that is making the biggest impact for the Patriots.
“He’s been with us for three years now, and he knows the running back position,” coach Lane McLaughlin said. “And he also knows the receiving position, the slot position and he’s a solid corner, too.”
Earley, who also plays cornerback and returns kicks for the Patriots, has 1,127 all-purpose yards this season, 10 touchdowns, 96 receiving yards, 25 tackles and one interception. He needed just four carries in Friday’s district win against Keswick Christian to go 127 yards and score twice.
Carrollwood Day (4-3) improved to 2-1 in Class 2A-District 5 with its 54-13 win against Keswick behind a solid defensive performance, which included 12 tackles from Dominick Cuono. The senior linebacker also caused a fumble, while senior Jake McAllister had nine tackles.
Ricky Pyron, Tampa Bay Tech — The Titans senior had a pair of fumble recoveries, including a 50-yard touchdown return, in TBT’s 38-21 win against Plant City, before switching to running back and putting up 34 yards on the ground and a rushing touchdown.
Chase Litton, Wharton — With a heavy heart, Litton led the Wildcats with 500-plus yards passing and four touchdowns (three passing, one rushing) before later paying tribute to teammate Sean McNamee who was seriously injured at practice this week, saying on Twitter: “All 500 yards, and 4 touchdowns I had tonight were for u kid !! #SeanStrong can’t wait to see u.”
Reggie Austin, King — The Lions defense led them to their first shutout win in more than a decade, with the junior recording three sacks and a fumble recovery in a 24-0 win against Robinson.
Lawrence Dawsey, Hillsborough — The sophomore may have accounted for two points, but they turned out to be big points. With Terriers starting kicker Blake Rehl injured, Hillsborough had to turn to Dawsey, son of former Tampa Bay Buccaneers and current Florida State wide receivers coach Lawrence Dawsey, for its punting and kicking duties. The younger Dawsey stepped up with two extra points, including the game-winning point late in the fourth.
Fred McCoy, Riverview — The Sharks sophomore rushed for 200 yards in a losing effort, including a 68-yard run late in the game to set up Riverview’s lone score on a pass to avoid the shutout in a 24-7 loss to Strawberry Crest.