CLEARWATER — It was all set up for an upset of monumental proportions. Heavy rain in the second quarter seemed to envelop Countryside in a gloom that seemed to break its spirit.
The Cougars were plodding on offense. And Palm Harbor University capitalized, getting a quick score and turning what many thought would be a lopsided game into a close one.
It wasn’t until Mike Flory turned up the field and left slipping defenders in his wake on a 38-yard touchdown run that the Cougars were able to exhale in a 20-7 victory on Friday night.
It was Countryside’s second straight win after losing to Largo three weeks ago. But it was not as convincing as the Cougars’ pounding of Seminole in their district opener last week.
After scoring on a 15-yard pass from Christian Strong to Marreio Taylor late in the first quarter, Countryside (4-1, 1-0) struggled to move the ball during a downpour the rest of the half.
Strong threw an interception deep in his own territory that the Hurricanes (3-2, 0-0) turned into a score on a 7-yard run by Demetri Royer in the second quarter to make it 7-7.
Late in the second quarter, the Cougars pounced on a fumbled snap exchange on a punt and scored on a 21-yard pass from Strong to Joe Ganci. The extra point failed and Countryside led 13-7 at the half.
“I was really pleased with the way our defense played,” Hurricanes coach Matt Lepain said. “And I know we made some mistakes. That’s what has me excited, because I know we can still get better.”
Trouble was, PHU was unable to generate much offense the rest of the game. Part of that had to do with a switch in quarterbacks. Tyler Kaminski, who started the first four games, did not dress Friday. Lepain would not comment on why Kaminski was not playing and said it has yet to be determined whether Kaminski will start next week.
Lepain did say Monday that Kaminski had violated a team rule and he would discuss the matter at a later date. Brevet Killet started and was 4-of-19 for 31 yards.
Killet was under heavy pressure in the second half. Countryside’s Mike Love provided a lot of it, registering seven tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery.
“My coaches were down on me for the way I was playing the past few weeks,” Love said. “I got back to being the old Mike Love, where I dominated. This was the best game we’ve played on defense this season. But I still haven’t had my best game yet.”