TAMPA — After a tight first half in which both teams struggled to find running room, Hillsborough was able to create holes for Anthony Brown and Nigel Harris and convert on a key fourth down that led to the go-ahead score Friday as the Terriers won 20-10 over district foe Sickles. The victory gave Hillsborough the inside track for a playoff spot and coach Earl Garcia 200 wins for his career.
“Wow, that was hard, man,” an emotional Garcia said . “If the other 199 were like that, I’d be selling insurance or something.”
Both defenses were able to shut down the opposing team’s power running game in the first half, as the Gryphons (4-2, 1-2) managed only 20 rushing yards. The Terriers, who had been averaging 184 rushing yards per game, weren’t much more productive, as their running backs put up 26 yards on the ground in the first two quarters.
The difference, though, was Hillsborough quarterback Jeremy Agrinzonis. He went 10-of-18 for 129 yards total, with 100 yards of those coming in the first half. On the opening drive of the second quarter, Agrinzonis moved Hillsborough into the red zone with back-to-back completions for 47 yards and added a 14-yard pass to Jalen Hill to put the Terriers at the Sickles’ 1-yard line. Fullback Nigel Harris jumped over the pile to score the first points.
“That was the plan, we were going to throw more than we did against Jefferson,” Agrinzonis said. “And all this talk about me and Evan (Jennings), today it was the whole wide receiver corps . I just put it in the air, and they made good catches.”
Jennings, the player Sickles aimed to shut down , didn’t catch a pass until the third quarter. In total, five Terriers hauled in receptions.
The Gryphons were able to run effectively on their first possession of the third quarter, calling five straight running plays that marched them 60 yards for a touchdown to put them on top 13-10. The lead was short-lived, though, as Hillsborough answered with its own touchdown on the next drive.
Down three and facing fourth and 1 on the Sickles’ 41-yard line, the Terriers called on Brown, who took a pitch from Agrinzonis 6 yards up the left sideline for a first down. Two plays later, he ran 14 yards into the end zone. Harris added another touchdown run in the fourth quarter to make the score 20-10.
The Gryphons recovered two fumbles in the late in the game but were unable to score. Coach Brian Turner told his team after the game that they played like winners.
“Be proud,” he said, “of how you fought.”