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CLEARWATER — The big showdown between the best two teams in Pinellas County was supposed to go something like this:
The big offensive line of Countryside was going to wear down the smaller frontline of Largo — which featured, for example, 190-pound nose tackle Claxton Boykins — and the second half would be a procession to the end zone for the Cougars.
Except that didn’t happen.
And not only did it not happen, it never even came close to happening.
Largo came out and thoroughly dominated the Cougars on Friday night, holding their running attack to negative yards and cruising to a 28-7 victory.
“We’re pit bulls, baby,” said linebacker Harry Brown, who had two sacks during the time — and there was lots of it — he spent in the
Countryside backfield as its offensive line was penetrated early and often.
Boykins also was in on two sacks with help from Reid Reynoso and Marquis Martin.
Frankie Hernandez, Cordell Hudson and Reggie Moore had interceptions, Moore returning his 50 yards for a touchdown.
With friends like that on defense, who needs offense?
“This was one of our biggest wins,” said Largo coach Rick Rodriguez, whose team was ranked No. 2 in Pinellas County by the Tampa Bay Times, right behind Countryside. “Our kids came out and banged them and got after them.”
While the defense was the story (Countryside finished with minus-2 yards rushing and 67 total yards), the offense set the tone early.
The Packers (3-0) went 65 yards on their first drive, leaving the ball at the Cougars 4. Countryside (2-1) took over and ran two plays, backward and into the end zone for a safety.
Largo then went 47 yards for a score (Jarvis Stewart scoring from the 10) to make it 9-0 in the first quarter and went into halftime ahead 16-0 after quarterback Juwan Brown went 68 yards around the end after a fake to Stewart.
“(Countryside defensive end) Mike Love, he likes to crash down,” Juwan Brown said. “And he’s a good defensive player, and he makes plays. But we used his strength against him, and I was able to turn the corner.”
Countryside went three-and-out on six of its seven possessions in the first half.
The Cougars got the ball to start the second half, but Hernandez’s interception of Christian Strong on the fourth play and his return to the Countryside 10 set up a Derrick Doss touchdown run to make it 22-0.
“We really got beat up physically up front and couldn’t establish the run and couldn’t run the ball,” said Countryside coach Jared Davis. “They were just tenacious.”
Juwan Brown finished with 112 yards rushing on 19 carries and completed 10 of his 15 passes for 95 yards. Stewart, who was held to 23 yards in Largo’s loss to Countryside last season, ran 23 times for 109 yards and had a 25-yard reception.