SPRING HILL — Springstead thought its Class 4A, District 5 showdown with Gainesville on Friday night would decide its postseason fate.
Despite losing to the Hurricanes 17-7, the Eagles showed signs of life and the kind of punch that could yet give them a shot at the playoffs.
Springstead (4-5) held steady on defense, surrendering only one touchdown in each of the first two quarters. The Hurricanes (7-2) came out with a five-receiver passing formation, but a combination of good pressure on quarterback Ryan McGriff (10-for-21, 176 yards, one touchdown) and solid coverage slowed down the game.
"Our kids have gotten older and more experienced," Springstead coach Bill Vonada said. "We were able to get a little more pressure on the quarterback in this game."
On the offensive side the Eagles were fully comfortable in their game plan. The ball control style of play fit what Vonada likes to do, and tailback Devean Huff (36 carries, 138 yards, three catches, 25 yards) took full advantage in the workhorse role. He proved to be back to game-speed after a lingering ankle injury from earlier in the season.
"I thought I played all right out there," Huff said. "That was a college-sized defense we played tonight."
As time wound down Springstead found itself behind by 10. The team was unable shift gears to make the kind of big plays needed to get back into it. Part of the reason for this disadvantage was an injury to quarterback Brian Beeker.
Beeker scored the team's lone touchdown on a trick play in the third quarter on a 19-yard pass from Tyler Mahla.