PINELLAS PARK — Jeremi Powell was a one-man wrecking crew Thursday night, scoring two touchdowns and registering three sacks as Pinellas Park topped Clearwater 17-7.
“(Powell’s) a downright animal,” laughed Pinellas Park coach Kenny Crawford.
The Tornadoes didn’t look sharp with quarterback Ryan Hagen on the bench nursing a neck injury. Pinellas Park keyed in on running back Bennie Niles and didn’t allow for the Clearwater running game to flow. And the Patriots defense pressured backup quarterback Robert Yarbrough.
“Yarbrough is an excellent quarterback,” Crawford said. “We prepared the same way for both kids,” alluding to Hagen.
Powell stepped in front of a Clearwater receiver for an interception resulting in a 26-yard touchdown in the second quarter.
“I pushed myself and broke a couple of tackles,” he said.
Pinellas Park (3-3) began the second half with a Matt Gaskin 15-yard field goal for a 10-0 lead.
Clearwater (4-3) put a strong drive together at the start of the fourth. The Tornadoes recovered a Powell fumble and Yarbrough found an open John Hogan for a 21-yard TD pass two plays later.
The Patriots fumbled on the subsequent possession, but Yarbrough gave it right back after being hit from behind. Powell scooped up the ball, returning it 73 yards for the dagger.