TARPON SPRINGS — East Lake’s hunger for the big play is insatiable. And the Eagles’ penchant for producing them comes with the deep strike.
By going vertical, East Lake pulled out a much-needed victory as Pete DiNovo hit George Campbell on a 63-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter for the winning score Friday night in a 20-14 victory over neighboring rival Tarpon Springs.
It was East Lake’s fourth straight win in the series and came a week after a deflating loss to Countryside.
“It was a great atmosphere, and I’m glad we were able to win one and stay undefeated as a senior class against them,” said DiNovo, who remained undefeated in his career against one of his biggest rivals.
For the second straight week, East Lake (2-1) was without its biggest playmaker, Artavis Scott, who has been hobbled by a sprained ankle and was in on one play Friday night.
Campbell filled the void.
Often, DiNovo would drop back and throw deep to Campbell, who ran as fast as he could, as far as we could, stretching the defense .
Double-team Campbell, as some tried this season, and he will still outleap the players to make the catch.
Single cover him? Don’t even think about it.
The Spongers (2-1) tried in the fourth quarter and Campbell made them pay. He got open deep down the middle and scored, erasing a 14-12 deficit to put the Eagles in the lead. East Lake went for two points and DiNovo hit Devin Abraham on a pass to make it 20-14.
“Pete asked me to step up,” Campbell said. “I knew right then I had to make something happen.”
Since becoming the main threat in the passing game two weeks ago, Campbell has responded with nine catches for 279 yards and two scores.
His effort was needed Friday because the Spongers would not go away.
In the first quarter, the Eagles went ahead 6-0 on Weston Fordham’s 2-yard touchdown run; the PAT failed. Tarpon Springs countered in the second quarter on Montel Johnson’s 31-yard touchdown run and Louis Zervos’ extra point made it 7-6.
The Eagles got a 21-yard field goal from Daniel LaCamera with 48 seconds remaining in the second and went into halftime with a 9-7 lead.
In the third quarter, the Spongers’ went ahead for the first time as Kenyatta Merriex went around the right on a 24-yard touchdown run to make it 14-9.
LaCamera hit his second field goal, a 22-yarder, in the third quarter to cut the deficit to 14-12.
That set up DiNovo’s winning pass to Campbell.
“We want to try to go deep when we can,” said DiNovo, who had 317 passing yards. “Tarpon was taking that away from us in the first half. But they gave us an opportunity to try something in the fourth quarter and we took advantage of it.”