TAMPA — Standing in front of hundreds of raucous fans celebrating at Titans Stadium, junior quarterback Greg Windham wanted to send his message loud and clear: there’s a new King in town.
Led by Windham, the Lions turned the Sligh Avenue rivalry with Tampa Bay Tech on its head Friday night with their first victory in the series in 22 years, outlasting the Titans 9-7 in a nondistrict game that went down to the wire.
“This is huge,” said Windham, who finished with 74 percent of the Lions’ total offensive yardage, going 8-for-16 for 114 passing yards and rushing for 9. “A lot of people have doubted us for the last few years, but it’s a different King now. We’re going a long way this year.”
King (5-2) had to fight off a last-ditch comeback by TBT (4-3). Trailing 9-0 at half, the Titans got a spark three plays into the third quarter from junior backup running back Lamarq Caldwell, who took his first carry 74 yards for a touchdown.
The Titans had the ball on King’s 37-yard line with a minute remaining, but the Lions defense held for four downs.
“This will give the team a lot of confidence,” King coach Alvin Davis said. “We have to keep working on the basics a little bit more. If we keep getting back to our basics, we’ll win more games.”
TBT only could blame itself for the early deficit, allowing a first-quarter safety on a snap over the punter’s head and out of the end zone. On the ensuing kick, King junior running back Chris Murray burst up the left side for a 58-yard touchdown.
The Titans outgained the Lions 224-166 but failed to capitalize on two trips inside the King 40-yard line. Just before halftime, the Titans had a bad snap on a 35-yard field goal after getting an interception on the 15-yard line.