GAINESVILLE — This time, there wasn't much drama in the Gainesville-Tarpon Springs playoff matchup.
A year after the Spongers ended the Purple Hurricanes' season on a controversial late fumble call, Gainesville got revenge with a 41-12 first-round win Friday, jumping out to a 34-0 lead at halftime and cruising the rest of the way.
"We got into the playoffs, and our young kids saw that. That's what we're going to build off of," first-year Tarpon coach Atif Austin said. "We're losing 19 seniors, and it's going to be hard to do that, but I'm going to instill in the young guys what we have to do to get back to this point."
Gainesville's Ryan McGriff went 14-of-23 for 207 yards and four touchdowns, including a 55-yarder early in the third quarter when wideout John Nixon caught a slant, trucked a defender and sprinted to the end zone.
McGriff was pulled after that play. In last year's 35-28 loss at Tarpon Springs, McGriff's spike attempt near the goal line was ruled a fumble, and the Spongers recovered to seal the game.
Spongers quarterback Louis Pappas completed a 26-yard touchdown pass on the game's final play, when Runaldo Wright snagged a tipped jump-ball pass.
The loss is a disappointing end to the season, especially as they gave the Hurricanes prime field position in the first half. Gainesville scored on six straight drives before halftime, with the final four beginning in Tarpon territory.
Austin declined a running clock in the third quarter and turned to a wildcat offense for his team's first score — a 7-yard run by Darius Daniels.