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PALM HARBOR — Billy Pavlock isn’t your normal, every-day scrambling quarterback.
Those guys you can catch.
So when he dropped back in Friday’s district championship with East Lake, he presented a dilemma for the Eagles.
Chase him and get left in his dust, or sit back and let him come to you.
East Lake’s defense seemed to settle somewhere in between, and that was just good enough for a 21-20 Eagles victory in the House That Billy Sold Out.
The crowd filled almost every square inch of aluminum bench, and what was left over lined the fence around the field. It was as big a crowd as the place had ever seen, as charged a crowd has ever been for a Palm Harbor University football game.
Hurricane fans showed up because they thought they could win, and they thought they could win because they had Pavlock as their quarterback.
They were right, almost. If not for a missed extra point with three minutes left after Pavlock bobbed and weaved his way in for a touchdown, we might have had overtime.
We might have had more Billy.
• • •
It looked like a blowout.
East Lake’s Pete DiNovo hit a wide open Artavis Scott for one touchdown. Tyler Lane ran in another to cap a methodical drive.
“I don’t know what happened,” Pavlock said. “I know we were fired up to play. Then we got out there. …”
It was 14-0 before the Hurricanes did anything. Taking the snap out of the shotgun, Pavlock ran a draw, then he scrambled, and when he had to, he passed to Hunter Beam for an 11-yard score right before the half.
Any momentum the Hurricanes had was quickly sapped when East Lake made it 21-7 in the third quarter.
But Pavlock wasn’t going to let his team go down without a fright for East Lake. Then it was 21-14 thanks to a pair of Pavlock passes for 28 and 26 yards that set up a Ryan Myers TD run.
“We were going to playoffs no matter what,” Pavlock said. “But we wanted to win the district. We wanted to make history.”
• • •
In the fourth quarter, Pavlock dropped back, scrambled a little, and that’s when he gets dangerous.
“He’s dangerous,” said Lane, a friend and on this night, a relieved foe.
As Pavlock scrambled, a defensive back watched, trying to decide if he should go get him. Just enough time for Beam to slip behind get open for a 65-yard reception. A few plays later, on third and goal, Pavlock scrambled right, then doubled back and finally just put his head down: 21-20.
“Everything was going good,” he said. Except the extra point.
Give East Lake credit. The Eagles were reeling, but on their own 10 with three minutes to kill, they did what good football teams do. In this case, give the ball to Lane and run behind an experienced offensive line.
The Eagles busted off runs: 5, 7, 9, 11.
PHU’s defense was bringing everything to stop it, and they couldn’t.
“East Lake football,” Lane said. “The coaches told me to hang onto the football, I was the senior captain and they were giving it to me.”
Lane did not fail them, seeing to it that Pavlock did not get another chance. Well, not Friday.
But in two weeks?
“I told the team the goal at the beginning of the year was the playoffs, and that’s what we got,” he said. “And who knows, maybe we’ll see East Lake again in the second round.
“It could happen.”