LARGO — Pinned on his own 5-yard line and trailing by five early in the fourth quarter Friday night, Jefferson quarterback Deiondre Porter told his team it was time to get going.
The Dragons sputtered through most of the first three quarters in their Class 6A region quarterfinal against Largo, and Porter had had enough.
He ripped off runs of 10, 28 and 25 yards, threw a 14-yard pass and ended the eight-play, 95-yard drive with a 5-yard touchdown run. It gave Jefferson its first lead of the game, and the Dragons never looked back in a 25-17 win over the Packers.
“I just kept saying that we’ve got to get something,” said Porter, who finished with 203 rushing yards. “It just takes that one play to turn the momentum in a game.”
Jefferson (10-1) will play a region semifinal at Armwood. Armwood is the only team to beat the Dragons this season. Largo ends its season 8-3.
For most of the night, Largo’s defense was containing Porter and stopping the passing game. Meanwhile, Largo was doing just enough offensively.
On Largo’s first drive, John Clark ripped off big runs and the eight-play march ended with a 39-yard field goal by Ben Hammelmann. Largo made it 10-0 in the second when Donavan Hale ran in from 12 yards to cap a nine-play drive.
Jefferson avoided the first half shutout with a late score in the second when Porter ran in from 9 yards. The extra point was blocked.
“We were so close in the first half and I kind of blame myself because we were so hesitant,” Dragons coach Jeremy Earle said. “I was kind of playing not to make mistakes. Finally we let it fly and started making some plays.”
Actually, Largo grabbed the momentum to start the second half. The Packers got an onside kick and turned that into a touchdown two plays later when Hale hit Raheem Harvey on a 62-yard pass that made it 17-6.
From there, it was all Jefferson.
Largo punted five straight times after the touchdown pass. Porter, who scored all four of Jefferson’s touchdowns, had a 1-yard run late in the third to make it 17-12.
Then he took over in the fourth. After the 95-yard drive for the go-ahead touchdown, he scored again, this time a 25-yard touchdown run. Porter ended the night with 32 carries for 203 yards rushing. He also threw for 128 yards.
“He took over the game,” Largo coach Rick Rodriguez said of Porter. “We missed a lot of tackles near the end. I think the biggest thing about the second half, we didn’t get any first downs.”
Largo had one last-ditch effort, but it ended when Hale’s fourth down pass to Jonathan Crawford was dropped with 26 seconds to play. This is the fourth time Largo has lost in the first round of the playoffs.