TAMPA — When Armwood showed up to Hillsborough on Monday night before its 37-2 blowout win, the Hawks noticed the red sign on the fence, reminding them of last year’s regular-season embarrassment.
Never forget 3-0.
“It kinda put some fire into us,” junior linebacker Jordan Griffin said.
Armwood (3-0, 2-0 6A-8) spent the next four quarters lighting into Hillsborough (0-2, 0-2) and severely damaging the Terriers’ playoff hopes in a crowded district with the 35-point victory.
Four days after storms postponed the game to Monday, the Hawks had no problems igniting. Sterling Hofrichter executed a surprise onside kick to start the contest, and his 36-yard field goal put Armwood ahead for good.
Its defense caught fire, too, when Phillip Smith blew up Hillsborough’s first pass attempt and Griffin dove for one of the Hawks’ two interceptions.
“Once we had the pick, we started rolling as a defense,” said Griffin, who also had a hand in two of his team’s five sacks.
Only eight of Hillsborough’s 22 first-half plays gained yards, and Division I quarterback prospect Dwayne Lawson was held to 42 rushing yards and finished 5-of-11 passing for 56 yards.
“We’re so fast,” Hawks coach Sean Callahan said. “That quarterback’s fast, too. But when we’ve got seven, eight guys coming at one guy, it played to our advantage.”
While the Terriers’ only points came when Armuad Chalk blocked a punt in the end zone for a safety, Armwood’s offense hardly slowed down. The Hawks scored on four of their first five drives and rolled to almost 400 yards of offense.
Noah Johnson threw touchdown passes to Smith and a diving Hunter Zilbar. Greg Newton, Craig Carrington and Caylon Holloway rushed for scores, and Holloway finished with 123 yards on nine carries.
Those performances helped atone for last year’s 3-0 loss, which kept the Hawks from a district championship. Coaches and players used that defeat as a motivational rally cry leading up to Monday. The sign near the Terriers’ student section was just another painful reminder.
“We were so embarrassed by that …” Callahan said. “It was bad.”
The Hawks finally dismissed those distressing memories 11 months later, giving Hillsborough a lopsided loss that could stick with the Terriers into the offseason.