SEFFNER — Armwood coach Sean Callahan said it's "always tough" to play a team a second time in a season after you've beaten them once. Callahan was correct, but the result remained the same: another Armwood win.
The Hawks trailed for the first time all season but the defense scored three touchdowns as Armwood poured on 28 points in the fourth to defeat Tampa Bay Tech for the second time this year, 50-20 in the 4A region semifinals.
"Our offense struggled a little, but the defense came through with some big plays," said safety Angelo Hadley, who set the all-time Armwood interception record Friday with his 19th career pick. "And we needed it tonight."
Armwood's defense gave up more points than it had all season, but also came up with huge plays when necessary. Theodore Jackson blocked a pair of punts, the defense recorded four sacks (three by Alton Bailey), recovered three fumbles — including touchdown returns by Ryne Giddins and Quinton Brown — and picked off TBT quarterback Angel Rodriguez three times. The last interception was by Giddins, who took it back 16 yards for his second score of the night.
"I've never scored two touchdowns before in my career," he said. "It was an exciting feeling."
Few on the Armwood (12-0) side were excited after the game's opening drive. Antonio Wallace capped a 15-play drive that ate up all but 2:36 of the first quarter with a 7-yard touchdown run.
Mywan Jackson's (106 yards rushing, 4-of-7 for 147 yards passing) 2-yard TD run put the Hawks ahead 22-6 with 4:16 left in the third. But Rodriguez (7-of-21, 188 yards) connected on long TD passes to C.J. Jackson (48 yards) and Ponce McNeal (36) to trim the Armwood lead to 29-20 with 11:07 left. But Bailey's second block of the night on TBT's next series led to touchdown runs of 21 and 6 yards by Matt Jones on successive Armwood possessions.
"Am I completely happy with the way we played? No," Callahan said. "But at no time did we panic."