LARGO — As the Hillsborough players walked dejectedly to midfield for postgame handshakes, they were gripped by the ghastly memory of Largo making the big plays it was known for.
Few thought the Terriers could lose in this Class 4A region quarterfinal. Hillsborough was too fast, the experts said. Too explosive. Too much.
But the Packers didn't listen. They were physical on both sides, contained the Terriers from making long plays and took advantage of turnovers.
Unable to get into any rhythm, Hillsborough never led and lost 24-3 in a game that left the Terriers grappling with disbelief.
"We were beat in every facet in the game," Terriers coach Earl Garcia said. "I don't hear anymore about Pinellas County teams can't play against Hillsborough teams. Largo showed they are a great team."
Early on, it looked as if Hillsborough (7-4) would make some things happen. Quarterback Tarean Austin put his team in position to score on its opening possession. But the drive ended with missed field goal by Mattias Ciabatti.
Hillsborough's next possession ended in a fumble. Largo (9-2) capitalized, scoring on a 33-yard run by Daniel Tillman to go up 7-0 in the first quarter.
The Terriers countered with a 31-yard field goal to cut the deficit to 7-3. But the Packers answered with long pass from quarterback Juwan Brown to set up a 28-yard field goal by Morgan Sever to make it 10-3 at the half.
Largo used its passing game to extend the lead in the second half. Brown started the scoring with a 5-yard touchdown to Myrick Gwyn, who outleaped and outmuscled two defenders to come down with the ball.
Brown then threw a screen to Jamarious Boatwright, who wiggled his way past a few arm tackles for a 53-yard score to put the Packers ahead 24-3.
Hillsborough never recovered. The Terriers threw an interception one drive and had two that were stopped on downs, including one inside Largo's 10-yard line.
"I preached to the kids all week that Hillsborough is a good team with a lot of tradition," Packers coach Rick Rodriguez said. "They have a lot of size and speed. But our kids showed a lot of work ethic and really stepped up."