SPRING HILL — Springstead's defense picked up right where it left off last season, completely shutting down Citrus on Friday. But it wasn't enough.
Sam Franklin returned an interception 76 yards for a touchdown on the final play to give the Hurricanes a 6-0 win.
"I've never lost a game in my life like that," Springstead coach Mike Garofano said. "All I could tell the kids was to keep their heads up. We'll right the ship before district play."
Springstead (0-1) rode Daniel Wright. Despite 10 — and sometimes 11 — defenders in the box, the senior gained 129 yards on 27 carries. Add his 2-yard catch, and he finished with 131 of the Eagles' 198 yards of offense.
First-year starting quarterback Victor Koerick did not have similar success. Replacing Tyler Mahla, the leading rusher in school history, the junior ran the ball six times for only 1 yard, including a sack on the final drive by end Andrew Swicegood. Koerick threw six passes, completing only two for 7 yards.
With less than a minute left in the fourth quarter, the Eagles coaching staff put the game into its new quarterback's hands. After an incompletion and the sack, the Eagles had one final play. Koerick rolled out and was supposed to dump the ball underneath to a running back. Instead, a deep pass was picked off by Franklin.
The defensive back evaded the entire Springstead offense on the way to a 76-yard return as the clock hit zero.
"(Koerick) put us in position all night long," Garofano said. "He made one errant throw at the end of the game. It's not going to cost him (the job). We still have faith in him going forward."
Zach Lawrence (six tackles), Conor Ross (five) and Dylan McLeod (four) stood out for the Eagles. Ross, returning from a torn ACL sustained at the end of last season, forced a fumble and combined with Lawrence for a sack.
Citrus (1-0) finished with only 81 yards of offense, 49 of which came between quarterbacks Ryan Grow (4-of-9, 23 yards) and Desmond Franklin (2-of-5, 26 yards). It was enough to repeat the Hurricanes' season opening win from last year over the Eagles and avenge a 21-6 playoff loss to them.