Make us your home page
Instagram

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

(View our Privacy Policy)

Football: Largo 14, East Lake 12

TARPON SPRINGS — Like D.J. Bullard — or the rest of the Largo defense, for that matter — needed any additional motivation.

With East Lake facing fourth down and long from midfield in the dying stages of Friday's game, and with rain trickling down onto an already spongy surface, Bullard easily made up a 5-yard gap and sacked quarterback Jackson Rowland to lock down the Packers' 14-12 upset victory.

"The coaches told me before the play, 'We need a sack. Get a sack and the game is over,' " said Bullard, who finished with two sacks and two tackles for loss. "I knew I had to get that sack, not for me but for the team. I was happy to get that opportunity."

That play epitomized the efforts of Largo (1-1). The offense struggled, punting 10 times and putting the Packers' defense behind the 8-ball time and again. But the defense rose up repeatedly and emphatically.

One statistic highlights that domination: East Lake (1-1) started eight drives in Largo territory, three of those inside the 25-yard line, but came away with only three points, a 35-yard Ian Woodward field goal to end the first half. All three of those drives that started inside the 25 ended with turnovers.

"We knew coming into this game that it would be a dogfight," said Packers coach Marcus Paschal. "(Eagles coach) Bob Hudson is not only one of the best coaches in the county, he's one of the best in the country. We knew we'd have to go in and execute."

And execute they did, making quarterback Kyle Wisniewski's 3-yard touchdown run in the first quarter and Quavon Matthews' electrifying 57-yard punt return for a score early in the second half stand up.

First it was Kion Brown's punishing hit that shook the ball loose from Brion Hillman, allowing Tony Smith Jr. to recover at his 7 with 4:25 left in the third quarter. Then Malcolm Barber pounced on a muffed handoff 21/2 minutes later at the 20. Finally, 31/2 minutes into the final quarter, Isaiah Bellamy snuffed out East Lake's best opportunity by diving on a loose ball at the 4.

"We like to cause a lot of turnovers, a lot of havoc," Bullard said of the defense. "We know we have to go hard to give our offense opportunities. We're a very important aspect of the game."

Despite their red-zone struggles, the Eagles closed to within 14-10 on Joshua Bowers' 72-yard punt return for a touchdown, then 14-12 on an intentional safety with a minute left. With East Lake having two more shots at the winning points, Bullard and the Largo defense closed the door.

"I came in last February after three years at Osceola, and I'm happy I found this team," Bullard, a senior, said. "Things were rocky at first — we're hard on each other — but it's all tough love. We bonded as a team. We have so much talent, and we're not going to go soft. We're keeping out foot on the gas, keep practicing hard. … We're going to act like we lost this game and work even harder. We want to get to the playoffs."

Football: Largo 14, East Lake 12 09/02/17 [Last modified: Saturday, September 2, 2017 12:38am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Buccaneers WR Mike Evans previews 2017-18 NBA season, predicts Warriors will be dethroned

    Bucs

    Tampa isn't the greatest basketball market. In fact, it's just about the worst.

    Mike Evans and Jameis Winston celebrate after connecting for a touchdown against the Bears in September. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  2. Peter Budaj, Lightning lose to Devils in shootout; Nikita Kucherov scores

    Lightning Strikes

    NEWARK, N.J. — For Peter Budaj, Tuesday's season debut had a shaky start.

    The Lightning’s Vladislav Namestnikov, right, battles Damon Severson for the puck.
  3. Lightning's Steve Yzerman enjoying Nikita Kucherov's scoring run

    Lightning Strikes

    NEWARK, N.J. — If anyone knows what it is like to be as hot as Nikita Kucherov is right now, it's Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman.

    Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov, of Russia, celebrates after scoring a goal on the New Jersey Devils during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017, in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
  4. Bucs journal: Offense needs to get off to a faster start

    Bucs

    TAMPA — The past two games have seen the Bucs offense muster furious rallies in the fourth quarter of losses, with 229 yards against the Patriots and a franchise-record 27 points against the Cardinals.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field before an NFL game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., on Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017.
  5. NFL players, owners hold 'constructive' talks on issues

    Bucs

    NEW YORK — NFL players and owners met Tuesday to discuss social issues, a session Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross called "constructive" and Colts defensive back Darius Butler termed "positive."

    A coalition of advocacy groups 'take a knee' outside of a hotel where members the quarterly NFL league meetings are being held on Tuesday in New York City.  Owners, players and commissioner Roger Goodell are all expected to attend. The activists spoke of having solidarity with athletes and coaches around the country who have also kneeled in protest of racial injustice, especially in policing.
 [Getty Images]