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TAMPA — Lamarq Caldwell gingerly walked over to Tampa Bay Tech’s postgame huddle Friday night, his left shoulder encased in ice and bandages. Caldwell put on his best smile as the media asked questions, trying not to grimace while he gave answers.
“It hurts a lot, man,” Caldwell said “I am in a lot of pain right now.”
And for good reason. Caldwell spent the second half running over and through the Brandon defense as the Titans took control of the 5A-7 leaderboard with a convincing 24-6 against the previously unbeaten Eagles.
“I wanted to put the team on my back,” Caldwell said. “They were 6-0 coming in but we knew we were the better team.”
After carrying the ball just once in the first half, Caldwell rolled up 135 of his game-high 136 yards in the final two quarters. The junior tailback also scored a pair of touchdowns and caught a two-point conversion from quarterback Johnathan Williams.
“We play big boy football over here,” Titans coach C.C. Culpepper said. “We wanted to run it right at them.”
TBT (5-3, 2-0) built a 10-6 halftime lead thanks to a 38-yard Williams touchdown run, Caldwell’s two-point conversion catch and a safety. Although the Titans scored just one touchdown in the half, Williams (53 yards rushing) and running back Qareeb Ahmed (43 yards rushing) moved the chains and kept the Eagles’ defense on the field for long stretches.
“(Ahmed) is just a pounder,” Culpepper said. “We wanted to wear them down and soften them up, then run it right at them in the second half.”
Save a 67-yard touchdown run by Brandon’s Darius Lee, TBT shut down the Eagles (6-1, 1-1) . The Titans surrendered just 111 other total yards of offense .
“(Linebackers) Tim Stewart and Iryan (Drummond) played great tonight,” Culpepper said. “We were able to rotate eight or nine guys in on the defensive line and keep guys fresh.”