Monday, May 21, 2018
Sports

Football: East Lake 45, Pinellas Park 0

EAST LAKE — Pinellas Park exhibited a veteran cool this past week, preferring a coping mechanism that included a quiet anger and acceptance about what happened in their previous meeting with East Lake.

The Patriots muzzled themselves, possibly because of the overwhelming nature of that lopsided loss that relegated them to runnerup status in Class 7A, District 9 and forced them to play on the road, again, in Friday's rematch in the region semifinals.

But this game turned out to be a near facsimile of the first as the Eagles defense turned in big stops and capitalized on miscues in a 45-0 victory.

East Lake (12-0), which set the school record for most wins in a season Friday, advances to its third straight region final and a home game against Port Charlotte.

"We wanted to come out and play (Pinellas Park) like we had never played before," said Eagles running back Weston Fordham, who finished with 137 yards rushing and two touchdowns. "We knew they were going to come out here with something to prove. We just had to make sure we got on them early."

East Lake did just that as Artavis Scott hauled in a 19-yard scoring pass from Jake Hudson on the opening possession to give the Eagles a 7-0 lead.

On Pinellas Park's first possession, it mishandled an exchange on an option pitch. Justin Strand pounced on the fumble, and East Lake turned it into points with Daniel LaCamera hitting a 51-yard field goal to make it 10-0.

The Patriots were not unglued, yet. They moved the ball on their next possession with Pierre Johnson and Oscee Calhoun ripping off big runs.

The drive eventually stalled, and Pinellas Park decided to go for it on fourth and goal from East Lake's 11-yard line. Patriots quarterback Angel Addison completed a pass to Calhoun, who was stopped at the 1-yard line by Devin Abraham.

"It was a blown assignment in coverage, and I was just trying to come up and make a play," Abraham said. "It was probably the best form tackle I've had all season."

That also was the turning point as the Eagles responded with a seven-play, 99-yard drive that was capped off by Scott's 17-yard touchdown run to give East Lake a commanding 17-0 lead.

"That was a momentum-changer," Fordham said. "Not just for our defense to get the stop, but for us to go on a 99-yard drive; that just made Pinellas Park feel a little worse."

Abraham continued to make big plays, scooping up a fumble and returning it 56 yards for a touchdown to put the Eagles ahead 24-0. Pinellas Park had another long drive in the second quarter end with Blake Duckworth intercepting a pass in the end zone.

Abraham even made things happen on offense, taking a direct snap and running 32 yards for a first down. That play helped set up Fordham's 27-yard touchdown run to make it 31-0 at the half.

In the second half, Fordham scored on a 15-yard run, and Abraham blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown to put East Lake ahead 45-0 in the third quarter.

A running clock was used in the fourth quarter.

"I just been lucky to be in the right place at the right time to get turnovers and blocked punts," said Abraham, who has scored six touchdowns on defense and special teams this season. "I wanted to do my part to help us get ahead. If we got on them early, we had a chance to bury them."

Comments
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Sunday’s Rays-Angels game

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Sunday’s Rays-Angels game

* It's always interesting to think of how many amazing plays you see made in a game, then often a simple one — such as the fourth-inning comebacker to Rays RHP Matt Andriese — gets messed up and costs teams heavily, as that led to two run...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Rays journal: Pitching plan works, until Sergio Romo leaves in second inning

Rays journal: Pitching plan works, until Sergio Romo leaves in second inning

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Doubling down on their innovativeness and starting veteran reliever Sergio Romo for a second straight day worked out fine Sunday for the Rays.It was the less-effective pitchers who followed, plus the ineffectiveness of their h...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Expansion Vegas advances to Stanley Cup final

Expansion Vegas advances to Stanley Cup final

WINNIPEG — The Vegas Golden Knights are going to the Stanley Cup final — with a chip on their shoulder."Everybody on this team has something to prove," forward Ryan Reaves said. "We call ourselves 'The Golden Misfits' for a reason. We're ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
What a long, strange and winning road trip it was for Rays

What a long, strange and winning road trip it was for Rays

ANAHEIM, Calif. — The nearly Yanny-vs.-Laurel level national debate over their latest pitching strategy innovation of starting relievers isn't quite as entertaining today. The In-N-Out burgers in the clubhouse after the game weren't as tasty. T...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Taggart delivers a bolt to area

Taggart delivers a bolt to area

TAMPA — After spending four years as USF’s football coach, Willie Taggart knows what to expect this time of year in the area, so it’s no surprise how he began a chat with reporters Sunday before a booster stop at Armature Works."Go Lightning," he sai...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Willie Taggart: ‘Pretty cool’ to be back in Tampa as FSU coach

Willie Taggart: ‘Pretty cool’ to be back in Tampa as FSU coach

TAMPA – After spending four years as USF's football coach, Willie Taggart knows what to expect this time of year in the area, so it's no surprise how he began a chat with reporters Sunday before a booster stop at Armature Works."Go Lightning," ...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Romo not the reason, but Rays streak ends at 6 with 5-2 loss to Angels

Romo not the reason, but Rays streak ends at 6 with 5-2 loss to Angels

ANAHEIM, Calif.  – Doubling down on their innovativeness and starting veteran reliever Sergio Romo for a second straight day worked out fine for the Rays on Sunday.It was the less effective pitchers who followed, and the ineffectiveness of...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Lightning-Capitals: Familiar ground for Capitals as they face elimination

Lightning-Capitals: Familiar ground for Capitals as they face elimination

TAMPA – Capitals G Braden Holtby basically summed up playoff life for the Capitals after Saturday's Game 5 loss in the Eastern Conference final when he said the team never makes it easy for itself."No, we don't," coach Barry Trotz agreed Sunday...
Updated: 8 hours ago
For Bolts radio duo, being fans at heart is key to their success

For Bolts radio duo, being fans at heart is key to their success

As the last tension-filled seconds of a tight playoff game wind down, high above the Amalie Arena ice, the play-by-play man becomes increasingly animated.Dave Mishkin, eyes bulging, face purple, jumps from his seat, holding the headset with his left ...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Lightning-Capitals: In playoffs, Lightning and its town become one

Lightning-Capitals: In playoffs, Lightning and its town become one

TAMPA — The Lightning is a win away from a trip to the Stanley Cup final. Its Game 5 win Saturday, to take a 3-2 lead over the Washington Capitals, was another chapter of a story being written on the fly."Think about Game 1 in New Jersey,"...
Updated: 9 hours ago