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LARGO — This was revenge retro-style. A year after a 24-3 playoff loss at Largo, the Hillsborough Terriers went all wool jersey on the Packers on Friday night. To say they schooled the hosts isn’t sufficient.
They old-schooled them.
In a Class 4A first-rounder featuring more throwback than throws, the Terriers amassed 320 rushing yards and scored 21 unanswered second-half points in a 41-14 romp of Largo (7-4). Hillsborough (8-3) travels to top-ranked Armwood next week for the second round.
“We sensed our kids weren’t ready to put the pads up (for the year),” Terriers coach Earl Garcia said.
To the contrary, they put the figurative leather helmets on. Facing Largo’s single-wing offense, installed earlier in the year when the Packers lost quarterback Juwan Brown to a season-ending injury, the Terriers countered with their own clouds of dust.
No one kicked it up better than senior three-way speedster Charles Lovett, who scored the Terriers’ first TD on a 55-yard punt return, and added a 65-yarder in the second half to essentially seal things.
“We saw it on film that they weren’t how they were last year,” Lovett said. “We knew if we practiced hard all week we’d come out and rock n’ roll, which we did.”
Even so, the Packers, who started six freshmen, were still in the game at halftime.
They ended the first half with a 16-play, 68-yard drive — capped by freshman Jarvis Stewart’s 1-yard TD — that cut Hillsborough’s lead to 13-7. The Packers converted on fourth down three times during the drive.
“I told our kids at halftime, “The game’s on,”’ Packers coach Rick Rodriguez said.
But Hillsborough opened the second half with a five-play scoring drive, highlighted by burly fullback Jamie Knott’s 49-yard run and Lovett’s 27-yard scamper. Shawn Bryant’s 7-yard scoring run capped it, giving Hillsborough a 20-7 lead.
“(The single wing) is the only thing we had,” said Rodriguez, who installed the offense after starting quarterback Brown went down. “We won a district title with it and got away with it, but it’s not going to go far.”
Senior Jerald Pearson and junior Chadd Pierson later scored on separate 45-yard runs. Largo, which scored on a late Stewart TD pass, managed only 133 yards on the ground. Stewart had 94 of them.
“Our defense played really well all year long,” Garcia said.
“The deal was, when you lose your quarterback like Rick did, you have to improvise. I mean, that’s a 1960s offense out of necessity and that’s something we hadn’t seen, so we had to get our older coaches together a little bit (to game plan).”