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TAMPA — On the busiest day of the year for retailers, Robinson senior tailback J.J. Hubbard couldn’t buy a break.
The biggest Friday of his season was getting blacker by the miscue. His second-period fumble inside Jesuit’s 30-yard line, and a holding whistle that negated his 70-yard scoring run on the second half’s second play, kept the Knights in a 7-all deadlock with unbeaten Jesuit.
But before a standing-room-only throng at Corral Memorial Stadium, Hubbard persevered.
“I knew I was capable of doing it again,” he said. “I told the whole offense, just keep it going, we were going to get it.”
As a result, the Knights (10-2) live to see another shopping day.
After the holding whistle, Hubbard ran for 122 of his 187 yards and scored both of his touchdowns to lift the Knights to a 21-7 victory against the Tigers (11-1) and avenge their one-point regular-season loss to Jesuit on this field eight weeks before.
“This kid’s a man,” Knights coach Mike DePue said of his 5-foot-8, 166-pound workhorse. “He may be a little guy, but he’s a man. And some Division I college is going to step up and say, 'This kid needs to play for us.’ ”
Hubbard, one TD shy of Robinson’s single-season record of 31, spearheaded a rushing attack that churned out 294 yards.
Meantime, Robinson’s defense used a six-man front and series of disguised coverages to discombobulate the Tigers’ offense.
“We won the second half, that’s what it’s all about,” DePue said. “The kids played really, really hard that second half. We got beat deep several times in that first game, and this time the kids stepped up the caliber of their play.”
Jesuit, which lost quarterback Patton Chillura to separate injuries in the second half, moved inside Robinson’s 40 on its next-to-last possession and had first and goal at the Robinson 8 on its final drive, but failed to score both times.
It also killed itself on special teams. With the scored tied at 7 midway through the third, the Tigers were whistled for roughing Knights punter Kody Thomas on fourth and 16 at the Robinson 34. Five plays later, Hubbard scored from 26 yards.
After Hubbard’s TD, Jesuit went four plays and out. Hubbard then darted for 48 yards on first down at his own 13, and scored five plays later from 8 yards. Quarterback Blake Rice, who gained 62 of his 83 total yards on the ground, maintained the drive with a 12-yard run on a busted play.
“The game plan was to keep it on the ground,” Hubbard said. “It’s unstoppable, I’m telling you.”