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PLANT CITY — Durant delivered a resounding message Friday to those who doubted its ability to match up against Tampa Bay Tech.
“They’re bigger, faster and we can’t stop their offense,” is what Durant running back Chris Atkins said people were saying heading into the game , which was a 34-7 Cougars victory.
Zach Hooper, who had two touchdowns , agreed with his teammate.
“We wanted to come out and make a statement and show people that we’ve got athletes who can make plays, just like them.”
The Cougars started making plays right off the bat, opening with an interception by Terry Grimsley on Tech’s first possession. Grimsley returned it to the Titans’ 7 , and just two plays later Trey VanDeGrift ran it in from 1 yard out to give the Cougars a 7-0 lead.
Later in the quarter, Durant took advantage of a special teams miscue . A roughing the punter penalty kept a Durant drive alive, and VanDeGrift made the Titans pay, capping the drive by finding a leaping Cory Roberts in the back of the end zone to extend the lead to 14-0.
Holding a 21-7 lead in the third quarter, Durant forced a fumble by Tech quarterback Deon Cain and that later set up Hooper’s second touchdown — a 32-yard run off a reverse — to effectively put away the game .
“I wanted us to win for our program to take a step forward,” said coach Mike Gottman. “We haven’t won a playoff game since 2003, that’s 10 seasons ago. It was time to win a playoff game. So, we needed to get this win tonight.”