Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

4A football: Tarpon Springs 35, Gainesville 28

TARPON SPRINGS — Gainesville trailed by only seven and had the ball on the Tarpon Springs 5, but with time winding down, the Purple Hurricanes needed to stop the clock.

So they attempted to spike the ball.

Chaos and confusion ensued.

When everything was settled, officials ruled that Gainesville quarterback Ryan McGriff had fumbled and Tarpon Springs had recovered, drawing elation from the Spongers and an emotional plea from the Purple Hurricanes, who claimed McGriff did in fact spike it.

"He bobbled it," said Spongers linebacker Kostas Vavlas, the player who ended up with the ball.

Two snaps later, it was over, and the Spongers, who once led 28-0, had escaped with an emotional 35-28 win that sends them into the third round of the playoffs for the first time since 1986.

They'll play at Orlando Edgewater next week.

The fact that Gainesville (10-2) was in position at the end to force overtime or even win says a lot about the team's resolve.

In the first quarter alone, Tarpon Springs (10-2) scored a touchdown on a fumble return and another on an interception return.

For a while, everything Gainesville did backfired.

Case in point: On one play, the Purple Hurricanes downed a punt at the Tarpon Springs 1-foot line. On the next, tailback Adrian Golden (21 carries, 225 yards) ran 99 yards for a score, giving the Spongers a seemingly insurmountable four-touchdown lead in the first half.

"I saw the 'Tarpon' (on the goalpost) and knew I had to get to it," Golden said.

But Tarpon Springs couldn't hold its lead.

Behind McGriff, who threw for 315 yards, Gainesville closed to within 28-14 at the break, scored on its opening drive of the second half and tied it at 28 with 3:02 left in the third on McGriff's 5-yard touchdown strike to Troy Campbell.

Tarpon Springs responded by driving 60 yards, keyed by a 41-yard Golden gain, and went ahead for good on Danny Chaisson's 1-yard run late in the third.

The Spongers had two chances to put Gainesville away but came up short on a fourth-down play and later missed wide left on a 50-yard field-goal attempt.

"It was an up-and-down game," Golden said.

On its final drive, Gainesville drove from its 20 to the Tarpon Springs 5 on eight plays. Then, for the Purple Hurricanes, disaster struck.

"I saw an opportunity and jumped on it," Vavlas said.

Tarpon Springs35

4A football: Tarpon Springs 35, Gainesville 28 11/28/09 [Last modified: Saturday, November 28, 2009 12:43am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Vikings coach feels better about QB Bradford playing vs. Bucs


    EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford moved with a little more bounce in his step during the 15 opening minutes of Thursday's practice before reporters were booted.

  2. Rays at Orioles, 7:05 p.m. Friday, Camden Yards, Baltimore

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Orioles

    7:05, Camden Yards, Baltimore

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    Probable pitchers

    RAYS: RH Alex Cobb (11-10, 3.63)

    ORIOLES: RH Ubaldo Jimenez (6-10, 6.57)

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 26:  Pitcher Alex Cobb #53 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait at Charlotte Sports Park during photo day on February 26, 2014 in Port Charlotte, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
  3. Bucs journal: Injury news not all bad


    TAMPA — The Bucs are dealing with injuries and illness as they prepare for their first road game of the season, at the Vikings on Sunday.

    Linebacker Kwon Alexander, left, who had an interception against the Bears before leaving with a hamstring injury, misses his second straight day of practice.
  4. 'Dream big' drives Lightning's Conacher brothers

    Lightning Strikes

    BRANDON — Two words: Dream big.

    Cory Conacher includes them every time he signs an autograph for a young hockey fan.

    Tampa Bay Lightning forward Cory Conacher (89) on the ice during Lightning training camp in Brandon Friday morning (09/15/17).
  5. Aaron Hernandez had severe CTE; daughter sues NFL, Patriots


    BOSTON — Tests conducted on the brain of former football star Aaron Hernandez showed severe signs of the degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy, and his attorney said Thursday that the player's daughter is suing the NFL and the New England Patriots for leading Hernandez to believe the sport …

    Aaron Hernandez's lawyer says the former New England Patriots tight end's brain showed severe signs of the degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy. [AP photo]